McEnany told reporters aboard Air Force One that the rally would be postponed a week or two due to the impending storms in the area. The rally was slated to be held outside at an airplane hangar amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump commented on Tropical Storm Fay ahead of his departure for Florida earlier Friday, saying he was monitoring the storm, which is expected to hit the East Coast.
He later tweeted: “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.”
The worst of Tropical Storm Fay will be through Portsmouth by the time the rally was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. There is only about a 20% chance of lingering showers at that time.
That said, conditions during the day will not be good, with heavy rainfall at times and gusty winds around 15-20 mph.
“The rally scheduled for Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been postponed for safety reasons because of Tropical Storm Fay. It will be rescheduled and a new date will be announced soon,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
A source familiar with the planning insisted the delay was weather-related.
Trump campaign officials have been in contact with the White House since this morning, reviewing a forecast warning of thunderstorms with lightning on Saturday morning.
While the skies are expected to clear by the time Trump takes the stage, officials were concerned about rally attendees who line up and would begin filing onto the tarmac in the morning, the source said. They decided it would be a safety issue to have crowds lining up for the rally with the threat of lightning overhead.
Ahead of the now-postponed Saturday rally, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared to downplay crowd expectations, claiming that “millions” of supporters are staying home because they already support Trump and don’t need to see him in person amid a pandemic.
“People will decide whether they want to go. I think there are so many millions, literally, of Trump-Pence voters who don’t want to go to rallies because they are already supporting the President and they’re going to do what they can to get other people to support the President, but they don’t want to go to rallies because maybe they’re older or they have some of the underlying co-morbidities,” she said during a Friday appearance on Fox News.
The Portsmouth event was set to be 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 it – as well as protest events around the rally - likely led to a significant rise cases in the area.
Unlike Tulsa, Portsmouth’s rally was planned to be largely outdoors, and rallygoers were “strongly encouraged” to wear a face covering.
Plans for an Alabama rally, which had been tentatively scheduled for July 11 before the New Hampshire rally was announced, were scrapped after local officials voiced opposition to holding a large gathering as cases rise 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’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people, if that’s your question specifically,” Sununu told reporters during a news conference on the state’s coronavirus response Tuesday.
In an email announcing Saturday’s rally, the Trump campaign said there would be “ample access” to hand sanitizer and all attendees would be provided and “strongly encouraged to wear” face masks. But it had not indicated they will mandate wearing masks. Staffers attending 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 dropped consistently since early May, according to Johns Hopkins University. The state’s numbers in general have been low – it has just under 6,000 reported cases total, and fewer than 400 people have died of 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.