On Friday, Donald Trump’s campaign stated that it had postponed its Portsmouth, New Hampshire rally set for Saturday due to weather concerns, CBS News’ Boston affiliate reported. However, according to former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, the real reason for the rescheduling is a fear of “embarrassment,” Raw Story reported.
“It’s a different narrative when you’re, as you saw, in Tulsa and in Arizona, where the numbers were far shorter off the mark than what the president’s team had projected and was telling the public,” Steele said. “That kind of political embarrassment where polling numbers, just fresh out today are showing only 37 percent of the country supporting how the president is handling any of this, 33 percent of the American people supporting how the president is handling the racism.”
Steele claims that the Trump campaign doesn’t want to “compound that narrative” with more pictures and videos of “half-empty halls.” The former RNC chair concluded that the postponement likely reflects “political withdrawal” as opposed to weather concerns.
As reported by CBS News, the White House pointed to Tropical Storm Fay as the primary reason for the postponement of the Portsmouth rally and said in a statement that the new date would be announced “soon.” But NBC News cited a Trump campaign official who allegedly said that team is working to avoid a repeat of the Tulsa rally, which had an underwhelming turnout. According to that White House official, the Tulsa rally helped Trump come to the realization that his supporters might not turn out for him in the numbers they did in 2016 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It can’t be 2016,” the official said.
According to the report, the Portsmouth rally will take a different approach than past rallies when it does take place. Notably, masks will be “strongly encouraged.” Staffers have yet to provide any prediction for crowd size or attendee requests — as campaign manager Brad Parscale previously did before the disappointing Tulsa rally.
As of now, the Trump campaign has not revealed its plans for possible forthcoming rallies after Portsmouth. Although aides have reportedly discussed holding one in Alabama before Tuesday, the idea was allegedly scrapped in the face of COVID-19 concerns raised by public health experts.
Trump previously rescheduled his Tulsa rally from Juneteenth — which commemorates the end of slavery — after public backlash. However, former Barack Obama administration aide Khalilah Harris suggested that the real reason for the date change was Trump’s fear of confrontation with counterprotesters. Harris also accused Trump of purposely scheduling the initial date for Juneteenth, which conflicts with the president’s claim that he was unaware of the date’s significance.