WASHINGTON – Well before the call to postpone President Donald Trump’s rally election on Saturday in New Hampshire, the warning lights flashed red.
There were no signs of the typical crowds of supporters camping out days in advance for a good spot; the Republican governor said he would skip it and advised everyone at high risk to stay home about coronavirus problems; fear of a repetition of Tulsa’s disappointing rise weighed heavily; and then came the stormy weather reports, which could have further increased attendance.
When the campaign announced that the Portsmouth event had been shut down, citing “security concerns”
The coastal city is currently not expected to be directly affected by the storm, but the decision to plan for bad weather is a “convenient excuse” for the Trump 2020 team, an external adviser told NBC News.
“It’s the perfect timing. The weather may have caused people to participate, but many did not initially start because of the virus, ”said this person.
Everything came as expectations of the campaign’s second attempt to restart the president’s 2020 meetings were as low as they ever were.
After an overwhelming crowd in Tulsa last month that left President Trump “furious,” according to those close to him, the campaign decided not to appreciate any kind of rallying for the now canceled Saturday event. The auxiliaries also did not boast any RSVP numbers for this rally after claiming that nearly one million people requested tickets to the Oklahoma event.
The last time Trump led the campaign in New Hampshire in February, he packed an arena with 11,000 people. This time, staff would not go anywhere near an expected crowd.
During the days leading up to the Trump rallies, aides typically help with dozens of supporters lining up for neighborhoods around the stadium, but the same level of enthusiasm did not show much this week, increasing the nervousness of how many would actually show up. The more remote location of the rally at an airport and the spotty weather may also have contributed.
Thunderstorms are in the forecast for much of Friday night, until Saturday afternoon, but heavy rain was expected to be largely cleared when the rally was scheduled to begin at 208. ET still, aides said they have planned from a plethora of caution due to participants who may come from a foreign state and they promised to announce a new date in the coming weeks.
“With a tropical storm approaching, with the likelihood of lightning strikes, it can be extremely dangerous to hold an incident in an aircraft hangar on an airport tarmac,” Trump’s communications director Tim Murtaugh told NBC News.
The New Hampshire GOP state party “rushed all week trying to get people involved,” according to a prominent anti-Trump Republican, citing Gov. Chris Sununu’s own refusal to attend the mass rally as a reason locals may have decided to skip the event .
Republican Sununu told reporters Tuesday that he would greet the president on the tarmac, wear a mask, but would not attend the rally itself.
“I’m not going to sit in the midst of a crowd of thousands,” Sununu said. “As governor, I try to be extra careful for myself and my family.”
The governor also encouraged older supporters over the age of 60 to stay away. “Being in a large crowd is a risk that the individual doesn’t have to take,” he said.
While New Hampshire has seen a decline in cases in recent months and the gathering was about to take place on an outdoor plan, local health officials did not stress mass gatherings of any kind yet during the pandemic.