It now appears Tropical Storm Fay, which swept through the northeastern US over the weekend, was nothing more than a “convenient excuse” for Trump to cancel a planned rally in the storm’s path, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
“It’s the perfect timing,” an unidentified outside adviser to the Trump 2020 campaign told NBC on Friday. “The weather may have been dissuading people to attend, but many weren’t coming to begin with because of the virus.”
The rally was supposed to be held outdoors in the coastal city of Portsmouth, but forecasters predicted the storm would pass before Trump’s 8 p.m. event on Saturday. The storm made landfall in New Jersey on Thursday before heading north across eastern New York and western Vermont, crossing the border into Canada by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
According to NBC, when Trump campaigned in the Granite State in 2016, he packed a stadium of 11,000, but this time around, far fewer people wanted to risk the storm or potential COVID-19 infection to attend. In addition, the canceled Saturday rally was to be held inside a large airport hangar, not at a downtown sports venue.
A contributing factor might have been the campaign’s strategic decision not to hype the Portsmouth rally, having suffered an embarrassing reversal last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when a rally for which Trump expected record attendance instead turned out to be a dud: just 6,200 people showed up to an auditorium that seats 19,000, and for which Trump boasted 1 million had applied for tickets.