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Donald Trump cancels New Hampshire rally due to tropical storm
10 July 2020, 19:22
US President Donald Trump has postponed his planned rally in New Hampshire on Saturday due to a tropical storm threatening parts of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters travelling to Florida with the president on Friday that the event, scheduled to be held in an aircraft hangar in Portsmouth, will be delayed by a week or two.
She cited the threat of Tropical Storm Fay, which is expected to bring rain to the region.
"The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay," campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
"It will be rescheduled and a new date will be announced soon."
The president tweeted: "With Tropical Storm Fay heading towards the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend, we are forced to reschedule our Portsmouth, New Hampshire Rally at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.
"Stay safe, we will be there soon! #MAGA2020."
It comes after a hiatus caused by a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases and after his planned comeback in Oklahoma turned into a debacle.
With Tropical Storm Fay heading towards the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend, we are forced to reschedule our Portsmouth, New Hampshire Rally at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease. Stay safe, we will be there soon! #MAGA2020— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2020
Mr Trump, trailing Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the polls, is eager to signal that normal life can resume despite a virus that has killed more than 130,000 Americans.
He will hold his first in-person fundraiser in a month later on Friday in Florida.
The president's rally in Portsmouth was scheduled after aides spent weeks studying what went wrong in Tulsa three weeks ago.
It was billed as a massive, defiant return to the political stage but instead produced a humiliating sea of empty seats and questions about the campaign's ability to attract people to large events in a pandemic.
Mr Trump's Friday fundraiser takes him to terrain where Covid-19's surge threatens his hold on a must-win state and raises questions about Republican aims to hold their nominating convention in Jacksonville next month.
He will also hold a small event supporting the people of Venezuela and visit US Southern Command in Miami to highlight a reduction in the flow of illegal drugs into the US.
Unlike the rally in Tulsa, which was held indoors where the virus more easily circulates, the one in Portsmouth will be partially outdoors in an aircraft hangar next to Air Force One when it does take place.
"All of Donald Trump's rallies and all of his events are electric," campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said.
"The president wants to go in there and talk about all the accomplishments he's done in his first term and how he's made people's lives better."
The Trump campaign believes it needs to return to the road, both to animate the president, who draws energy from his crowds, and to inject life into a campaign that is facing a strong challenge from Mr Biden.
"The campaign feels he needs to be out there but every time he speaks in front of crowds there is a chance the virus spreads," said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University.
"But it's just as bad if he comes out to an empty crowd, which could be a sign that people are not enthused or they are scared."
The Trump campaign has also been eager to return to the road to draw a contrast with Mr Biden, who they have painted as being marooned in the basement of his Delaware home.
Mr Biden has been unapologetic about following recommendations from public health officials amid the pandemic.
He has travelled by car around Delaware or nearby Pennsylvania for a handful of events.
In contrast to Mr Trump, he wears a mask and observes social distancing guidelines.