The Donald Trump who won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide is a different candidate from the one who finished second in Iowa last week.

Heading into this contest, he was a bit more humble, acknowledging that he needed more than an outsize personality to win elections. He spent more time with voters one-on-one and allowed reporters more access. He was a bit more composed and - compared with his normal tone - made somewhat fewer controversial comments.

Trump now heads to South Carolina's February 21 Republican primary with a new burst of confidence and momentum. But Iowa and New Hampshire exposed weaknesses in Trump's campaign that, if not corrected, could become liabilities in the coming weeks, especially as the field narrows and he has to juggle more than one primary at a time.

Trump, Sanders win in New Hampshire


Labelling Trump as a non-traditional candidate or a political outsider does not fully capture the extent to which he has set the traditional campaign rule book on fire. He celebrated a victory that few would have predicted a year ago or even a few months ago.

A supporter wears a button promoting Donald Trump to speak during a primary night rally. Photo / AP
A supporter wears a button promoting Donald Trump to speak during a primary night rally. Photo / AP

In many ways, Trump is his own spokesman, campaign manager, strategist and policy adviser. He is such a constant presence in the daily news cycle that when he briefly takes a break from actively campaigning his absence is noticed and criticised.

Some in New Hampshire questioned why he didn't spend all eight days after the Iowa caucuses in their state.

For months, Trump has employed a long-term strategy, never becoming too focused on the first few nominating contests and making regular appearances in the states to come. In the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, he ventured to South Carolina and Arkansas. This week, Trump will hold rallies in South Carolin, Louisiana and Florida.

He seems happiest doing one major rally per day - especially in places that rarely see presidential candidates - and thousands easily pack into large arenas.

But in New Hampshire, Trump experimented with small town-hall meetings capped at 200, wandering around with a microphone instead of standing behind a lectern where he has long seemed most comfortable.

At three such events on Friday and two more on Tuesday, Trump showed a softer, more personable side as he listened to locals share their problems: a father who lost his son to prescription drugs, a flight attendant who had to quit her job after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a small-business owner who feels crushed by regulations.

Frank Ricci, of Providence, R.I., holds signs supporting Donald Trump while waiting for Trump to attend a primary night rally. Photo / AP
Frank Ricci, of Providence, R.I., holds signs supporting Donald Trump while waiting for Trump to attend a primary night rally. Photo / AP

This rush of events, often announced at the last minute, revealed just how disorganised Trump's campaign can be. At Trump's rally on Tuesday, hundreds of reporters had to wait outside in a snowstorm for at least 45 minutes because of a slow-moving and understaffed security line, even though the campaign had a rough head count ahead of time.

The campaign sent reporters a list of eight campaign stops that Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump would make on her father's behalf, complete with exact locations and times.

When reporters showed up to one of these stops - Mary Ann's diner in Derry about lunchtime - Ivanka Trump seemed alarmed that reporters were there and refused to answer questions.

"I'm just a daughter supporting her father," she said, before leaving the diner ahead of schedule with her husband.

On the trail, Trump is unpredictable and politically incorrect - two things that have been key to his popularity with conservatives but that have made him a rather unmanageable candidate.

In the days after Iowa, Trump seemed to tone down his rhetoric on the campaign trail and spent less time attacking his opponents.

He was refocusing on his core issues: stopping illegal immigration, fighting terrorism, standing up to lobbyists and bringing jobs back from overseas.

The campaign spent US$850,000 airing a commercial that featured some of Trump's minority supporters explaining why they support him - a far different message than the ads Trump ran in Iowa showing wartime explosions and people rushing across the border. Many of Trump's tweets suddenly read like formal campaign talking points rather than, as they usually do, the candidate's random thoughts.

But Trump is still Trump. On the eve of the primary, Trump was in the midst of a rowdy, rock-concert-like rally in Manchester when he mentioned that campaign rival Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) was hesitant to fully support waterboarding, the interrogation technique the Obama Administration considers torture. A woman in the crowd shouted something.

"She just said a terrible thing," Trump said with a smile.

"You know what she said? Shout it out."

The woman shouted louder but still couldn't be heard in the cavernous arena filled with about 5000 people and hundreds of journalists.

"She said, 'He's a pussy.' That's terrible," Trump said, jokingly reprimanding the woman for calling a senator such a vulgar word.

That five-letter word became the headline of the rally and on the morning of the primary it came up again and again in a series of television interviews. The comment didn't exactly make Trump look presidential, although he insisted that he was just having some fun and would never use such a word himself, especially in the White House.

"I'll tell you what," Trump said in an interview with NBC, "when you're president or you're about to be president, you would act differently."