FILE PHOTO: United States President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd when he arrives on stage at his first re-election campaign rally in several months amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, June 20, 2020. REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump plans an outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, the second of the campaign’s coronavirus era after one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month that did not draw crowds that his advisers predicted.
The campaign announcement on Sunday of the planned rally comes at the end of a festive weekend that saw the Republican reaffirm his promise to defeat what he called the “radical left,” as polls show him behind the alleged candidate. Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the November 3 election.
The Trump campaign said the rally would take place at 8 p.m. at Portsmouth International Airport and, in a nod to a national surge in coronavirus cases, would provide hand sanitizer and face masks.
“We hope that so many freedom-loving patriots come to the rally and celebrate the United States,” Hogan Gidley, Trump 2020 national press secretary, said in a statement.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the demonstration “would only further highlight the chaos” that Trump had caused in his “woefully inadequate” handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump narrowly lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Rising coronavirus cases in 39 US states cast a shadow over July 4 celebrations in the US this weekend, and health experts fear the holidays will trigger yet another spike in infections that could overwhelm hospitals.
In the first four days of July alone, 15 states reported record increases in new cases of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 3 million Americans and killed about 130,000, according to a Reuters count.
Hoping to end his slump in the polls, Trump is considering making staff changes and ways to expand his message to attract support beyond his conservative base. Attendees say he wants to focus on his ability to lead the country’s economic comeback, his only bright spot in the polls.
Report by David Brunnstrom; Scott Malone and Peter Cooney edition