President Trump'sthat was planned for Saturday has been postponed due to incoming Tropical Storm Fay, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday. The campaign said in a statement that the rally, which was supposed to be held in an outside venue, will be rescheduled and a "new date will be announced soon."
"The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
But two GOP sources told CBS News that while the media has been watching RSVPs after Tulsa, New Hampshire is not Oklahoma. Republicans have lists of every diehard Trump supporter and casual political spectator in this state, and there were other ways of knowing what turnout would look like beyond the rally RSVP form. When Republican Governor Chris Sununu backed out of attending the rally earlier this week, it gave other Republicans license to do the same, and that was a concern.
Mr. Trump tweeted Friday about the cancellation, writing that they were "forced to schedule" due to "Tropical Storm Fay heading towards the Great State of New Hampshire this weekend." "Stay safe, we will be there soon!" Mr. Trump wrote.
"It was an outdoor rally with potential thunder and lightning storms," New Hampshire GOP chair Stephen Stepanek and longtime Trump ally told CBS News. "It was a safety issue."
According to the National Weather Service, showers and thunderstorms are likely between 1 and 3 p.m on Saturday, and there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. There is a 30% chance of showers before 8 p.m., the scheduled start time of the rally.
According to Facebook's ad library, the Trump campaign spent tens of thousands of dollars investing in hundreds of digital advertisements encouraging Trump supporters to RSVP for the rally.
The most common advertisement reads, "Get Your Tickets NOW! HUGE PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE RALLY JULY 11TH at 8PM. President Trump asked us to invite YOU to his campaign rally in PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE. LAST CHANCE: Seats are going fast!"
It was unclear what the attendance would be at the rally, given concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. In texts and emails and phone calls to CBS News, campaign aides insisted Saturday's rally would have brought a "packed house" of supporters into the airport hangar.
"We had him here in February," Corey Lewandowski told CBS News. "We had 12,000 people fill the SNHU arena. We broke the record."
Republican Governor Chris Sununu said he would not appear at the rally, and it was unclear how many Republican officials would attend.
However, Sununu would have greeted the president upon his arrival, and told reporters Tuesday that he planned to wear a mask while doing so. "We hear from the Trump campaign that they'll be there wearing masks," he added.
Sununu said Friday that he heard about the cancellation from Twitter and they "have no additional information at this time."
New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley slammed Sununu in a statement for allowing the rally to happen amid the pandemic.
"Chris Sununu did not cancel this rally and was willing to risk the health and safety of Granite Staters to appease Donald Trump but not his own," Buckley said. "Now, Mother Nature has apparently intervened to protect the health of Granite Staters when Chris Sununu refused. Chris Sununu will have to spend his time from now until when this superspreader rally takes place explaining why he is still willing to protect himself and willing to jeopardize Granite Staters' health."
Mr. Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month had fewer attendees than expected. The top health official in Tulsathat the rally, along with attending protests, had likely contributed to the city's spike in recent coronavirus cases.
According to a statement released by the Trump campaign, the outdoor event in New Hampshire would have featured "ample access to hand sanitizer" and all attendees "will be provided a face mask that they are strongly encouraged to wear."
Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed reporting.