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Trump abruptly postpones weekend campaign rally in New Hampshire

His campaign, already wary of another low turnout, blamed the decision on an impending tropical storm.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Florida to visit U.S. Southern Command and attend a campaign fundraiser on July 10, 2020, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md.Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is postponing his New Hampshire campaign rally scheduled for Saturday, blaming a tropical storm expected to hit parts of the East Coast, the White House announced Friday.

After being forced to abandon in-person campaigning because of coronavirus, Saturday would have been his second rally since ending the hiatus. His June event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was criticized for relaxed safety precautions, drew a meager crowd.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters traveling with the president to Florida on Friday that the rally would be delayed a week or two due to Tropical Storm Fay, which is expected to make landfall on Friday.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, said that the event would be “postponed for safety reasons” and “a new date will be announced soon.”

The campaign event was scheduled to be held in an aircraft hangar in Portsmouth, leaving parts of the event space uncovered and vulnerable to rain.

The Tulsa event, which Trump had hoped to use to make a case for the country's readiness to reopen despite the ongoing virus outbreak, was overshadowed by a smaller-than-expected crowd size and health concerns. Multiple Trump campaign staffers tested positive for the coronavirus in Tulsa and a top Tulsa health official said that the rally “likely contributed" to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases there.

The Tulsa event left some campaign officials scrambling to not make the same mistakes.

"We can't have a repeat of Tulsa," one campaign official said to NBC News.

Fay is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain, with the possibility of flash flooding in parts of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England, The U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Tornadoes and strong winds are also expected. Current forecasts do not have Portsmouth being hit directly by the storm.

Trump appeared eager about the event Friday morning, just hours before the White House announced it would be postponed.

“We’re going to have a big crowd and we’re going to have a great crowd,” the president said Friday in a radio interview with “New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath.”