The National Weather Service forecasts an 80 percent chance of precipitation in Portsmouth during the day Saturday, with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening before 9 p.m. Trump’s rally was to begin at 8 p.m.
Fay is expected to produce heavy rainfall “from Delaware northward into New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeast New York, and southern New England,” potentially resulting in incidents of flash flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical storm conditions “will continue to spread northward across portions of the mid-Atlantic and northeast coast” throughout Friday.
Trump referenced the storm in remarks to reporters outside the White House earlier Friday as he departed for Florida, but he made no suggestion it would affect his campaign’s plans to hold the New Hampshire rally.
“Tropical Storm Fay is probably going to be hitting a place called New Jersey, a good place, pretty soon,” he said. “So we are under watch. We’re fully prepared. FEMA’s ready, in case it’s bad. Shouldn’t be too bad, but you never know. You never know.”
Later Friday afternoon, Trump acknowledged the cancellation on Twitter. “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,” he wrote.
Apart from the predictions of inclement weather, Trump’s New Hampshire rally had already been plagued by fears related to the coronavirus pandemic, with critics arguing it could become a super-spreader of infections.
The event was set to mark Trump’s return to the campaign trail after his rally last month in Tulsa, Okla., where the campaign failed to fill an arena with supporters after promising a huge overflow crowd.
The director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department assessed Wednesday that Trump’s rally and associated protests “more than likely” contributed to a spike in Covid-19 infections there.
The county reported 261 new cases Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 rally, there were 76 cases Monday and 96 cases Tuesday.
After the Tulsa rally, White House and campaign officials emphasized this week that attendees of the outdoor New Hampshire event would have access to hand sanitizer and be provided face masks, which they would be “strongly encouraged” to wear.
Erin Perrine, the campaign’s director of press communications, told Fox News on Friday that the campaign had postponed the rally “out of an abundance of caution” and because “we want to make sure that we put safety first for everybody.”
Perrine also defended the campaign’s decision to continue organizing large-scale, physical events for Trump and his supporters amid a highly infectious outbreak.
“We know that putting President Trump in front of the American people, removing the media bias and filter, is when he shines at his brightest,” she said.