She added, “I think Pence is a coward,” alluding to the erroneous belief, still pushed by Mr. Trump, that his vice president could have rejected enough electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to send the 2020 election back to the states, and possibly overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
In the old days — before super PACs flooded the airwaves, social media brought politicians’ messages directly to voters’ smartphones and partisans were glued to their favored cable news shows — showing up on the Fourth of July really mattered.
“Retail has always been mostly theater, but now it’s all a performance for the cameras, not about meeting regular people and listening to their concerns,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.
This year, Mr. Trump’s rivals hoped it still did matter. In Merrimack, N.H., volunteers and supporters backing Mr. DeSantis waited to walk with their candidate in the Fourth of the July parade there, standing near a dance troupe in hot pink shirts, a wooden float filled with members of the Bektash Shrine Clowns and a yellow school bus decorated as the boat from the Boston Tea Party.
But it was another Republican presidential hopeful, Mr. Scott, who caused a stir first, showing up on the parade route trailed by a passel of photographers and television cameras.
“Hopefully some of those voters will become our voters,” Mr. Scott told reporters when asked his thoughts on the people in DeSantis and Trump gear who were coming up to shake his hand. “But at the end of the day, we thank God that we have folks that are committed to the country, committed to the concept that the conservative values always work.”
Outside a pancake breakfast in Merrimack, N.H., former Representative Will Hurd of Texas and his wife, Lynlie Wallace, mixed with runners at a road race.