McEnany told reporters aboard Air Force One that the demonstration would be postponed for a week or two due to impending storms in the area. The rally was scheduled to take place outside in an aircraft hangar amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He later tweeted, “With Tropical Storm Fay heading for the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend, we are forced to reschedule our Portsmouth, New Hampshire Rally at Portsmouth International Airport in Pease. Stay safe, we will be there soon! # MAGA2020 “.
The worst of Tropical Storm Fay will pass through Portsmouth by the time the rally begins at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. There is only about a 20% chance of persistent rain at that time.
That said, daytime conditions will not be good, with heavy rain at times and gusting winds around 15-20 mph.
“The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been postponed for safety reasons due to Tropical Storm Fay. It will be rescheduled and a new date will be announced soon,” said campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a statement.
A source familiar with the planning insisted that the delay was related to the weather.
Trump campaign officials have been in contact with the White House since this morning, reviewing a lightning storm warning forecast forecast on Saturday morning.
While the skies are expected to clear by the time Trump takes the stage, officials were concerned about rally goers lining up and would begin showing up on the blacktop in the morning, the source said. They decided it would be a security problem to have crowds lining up for concentration with the threat of lightning overhead.
Ahead of Saturday’s now-postponed rally, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway seemed to downplay the crowd’s expectations, claiming that “millions” of supporters are staying home because they already support Trump and don’t need to see him in person in the midst of a pandemic.
“People will decide if they want to go. I think there are literally so many millions of Trump-Pence voters who don’t want to go to the demonstrations because they are already supporting the president and are going to do whatever they want.” They can get other people to support the President, but they don’t want to go to demonstrations because they may be older or have some of the underlying comorbidities, “he said during an appearance on Fox News Friday.
The Portsmouth event was the first campaign rally since Trump supporters gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month. That event fell short of attendance expectations, but Tulsa health officials said that, as well as the protest events surrounding the rally, likely led to a significant increase in cases in the area.
Unlike Tulsa, the Portsmouth rally was planned to be largely outdoors, and rally attendees were encouraged to cover their faces.
Plans for a protest in Alabama, which had been tentatively scheduled for July 11 before the protest in New Hampshire was announced, were scrapped after local officials voiced opposition to holding a large rally as the cases in the state.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, told reporters Tuesday that he was unlikely to attend the rally, but said he would greet the president when he arrived and expressed confidence that the rally could be held safely and without a mandatory mask order.
“I am not going to stand in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people, if that is your specific question,” Sununu told reporters during a press conference on the state’s coronavirus response on Tuesday.
In an email announcing Saturday’s rally, the Trump campaign said there would be “wide access” to the hand sanitizer and that all attendees would receive and “strongly recommend” wearing face masks. But he had not indicated that they will force them to wear masks. Employees who attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa, including campaign manager Brad Parscale and communications director Murtaugh, wore masks.
New Hampshire’s seven-day moving average of new cases has declined steadily since early May, according to Johns Hopkins University. The state’s overall numbers have been low: It has just under 6,000 cases reported in total, and fewer than 400 people have died from the virus there.
This story has been updated with a statement from the Trump campaign and more details about the rally.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Kate Sullivan and Ryan Nobles contributed to this story.