Trump’s Portsmouth, N.H. Rally Canceled Due To Low Attendance Fears, Officials Say
President Donald Trump‘s rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, officially was canceled due to a forecasted thunderstorm, but sources close to the campaign told reporters that it really got shelved due to low attendance expectations related to coronavirus and the weather.
As the campaign said in the statement, the rally was postponed due to a storm that was forecasted in the area for the day of the rally.
“The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay. It will be rescheduled and a new date will be announced soon,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
Officials, however, told NBC News that the rally was postponed due to low attendance fears and called it a “convenient excuse.”
“It’s the perfect timing. The weather may have been dissuading people to attend, but many weren’t coming to begin with because of the virus,” an outside campaign adviser told the outlet.
The low attendance fears come after turnout issues with Trump’s Tulsa rally in June. It was expected to be Trump’s much-anticipated MAGA comeback after the coronavirus hiatus, but the 20,000-seat indoor arena was filled with only around 6,000 attendees, with the upper rows mostly empty. TikTok and K-Pop fans took partial responsibility for the low turnout after registering for the seats without intending to show up.
“We’re pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy, and our goal is to put President Trump in front of as many patriotic Americans as possible,” Jason Miller, the campaign’s top strategist, told CNN. “Rallies are going to happen. They’re going to be bigger than anything Joe Biden is able to pull off this year.”
Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump rallies amid the pandemic, saying it is his “constitutional right.”
“Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights,” Pence said. “I think it’s really important that we recognize how important freedom and personal responsibility to this entire equation.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) told reporters Tuesday he was going to greet Trump but would skip the rally due to health concerns.
“I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people,” Sununu said. “As the governor, I try to be extra cautious for myself and my family.”
New Hampshire has been reported to have lowered the curve, with 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. However, 35 other states have been experiencing the surge in new cases, with nearly 66,000 people having tested positive across the country on Saturday.