WHATEVER THE REASON President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign postponed his rally in Portsmouth Saturday night, operatives now have more time to make sure that when the show goes on, it meets his lofty expectations.
We know that when it comes to rallies, size matters to the president.
Two images come to mind.
The first is Trump gleefully tweeting aboard Air Force One when he was here last summer that he had outdrawn famed rocker Elton John with a record-setting turnout inside and outside the SNHU Arena in Manchester.
The second is the photograph of a tired, dejected-looking Trump stepping off the Marine One helicopter onto the White House grounds after 1 a.m. on June 21 after his campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., where two out of every three seats in the arena were empty.
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, said the New Hampshire event would be “postponed for safety reasons” and “a new date will be announced soon.”
To be fair, the Secret Service is notoriously cautious about sending Air Force One into the vicinity of inclement weather.
But forecasts Friday did not show the rally site at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth to be in the storm’s direct path. And most weather models had the storm passing coastal New Hampshire before the rally’s scheduled 8 p.m. start.
Four hours before the rally was postponed, Trump sounded as if he couldn’t wait to get here.
“We’re going to have a big crowd and we’re going to have a great crowd,” the president said Friday morning in a radio interview with “New Hampshire Today” host Jack Heath.
Yet around the same time Friday, Trump confidante Kellyanne Conway was trying to lower the bar.
“Of course, people will decide whether they want to go,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.” “I think there are so many — millions, literally, of Trump-Pence voters who don’t want to go to rallies because they’re already supporting the president.”
She explained supporters may not want to attend rallies during the COVID-19 pandemic “because maybe they’re older or have some of the underlying comorbidities.”
Steve Stepanek, chairman of the Republican State Committee, also did his best to tamp down the pre-rally crowd estimates.
“This won’t be the size rally we’ve seen from the president here and elsewhere in the past, like 25,000 people,” Stepanek said Thursday.
The Trump campaign had to face the reality that the weather forecast and turnout forecast were related.
Naturally, Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley tried to shame Gov. Chris Sununu with the news.
“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. Now, Mother Nature has apparently intervened to protect the health of Granite Staters when Chris Sununu refused,” Buckley said in a statement.
“Chris Sununu will have to spend his time from now until when this super-spreader rally takes place explaining why he is still willing to protect himself and willing to jeopardize Granite Staters’ health.”
Now the Trump team gets a mulligan, and the brain trust has to hope by then that the spike in COVID-19 cases in three-fourths of the states has crested and the case count is going in the opposite direction.
Social media blew up with conspiracy-theorizing that the cancellation had more to do with the Trump campaign’s inability to turn out a big crowd than the prospect of heavy rain.
Kelly Thompson of Derry posted on Facebook, “Go figure a global pandemic he’ll push through, but some rain on that toupee is a deal breaker.”
Judy Ann Roby of Concord responded, “Aww keep your mask on honey, we’ll all make sure he still gets elected!”
Sununu raising big money
Sununu said last week that he’s “ramping up” his reelection campaign, including his fundraising operation.
The two-term governor’s first big money event in New Hampshire since COVID-19 hit will be a week from Monday at the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford.
The “minimum contribution” is $1,000, which is the most the Sununu campaign can take from any individual or business for the September primary since he has signed up to run without agreeing to the state’s campaign-spending limit.
The most an attendee can give is $2,000, which would max out that donor for both the primary and general elections.
The 10 co-sponsors of the event are a who’s who of Greater Manchester business elite, including Andy Crews, Dick Anagnost, Bill Greiner, Tom Boucher and Phil Taub, along with Concord developer and ex-state GOP Chairman Steve Duprey.
Another interesting name listed on the invite as a co-host is GOP congressional candidate Matt Mowers.
Sununu has said it’s not appropriate for him or other leading GOP party figures to take sides in contested primaries.
This is more about how Mowers has become a fixture in the Queen City financial orbit.
Many of those who joined him as sponsors of this event have helped bankroll Mowers’ primary contest against former GOP Vice Chairman Matt Mayberry.
This event clearly indicates Sununu believes his opponent in the fall election will be well-financed.
In initial campaign filings last month, Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes set a record for funds raised by a challenger at that point. His primary opponent, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, bragged that he had a record number of donors.
Sununu still a target
Despite Sununu’s strong approval ratings, the corner office in New Hampshire is still viewed nationally as a coveted prize.
The Democratic Governors Association already has made donations to the state party here and attacked Sununu several times in recent months.
The stakes are high in this election. The next governor will either sign or veto the Legislature’s plans to redraw the voting districts for Congress and Executive Council, as well as seats in the both houses of the Legislature.
But this race says more about how few competitions there really are nationwide.
Republicans hold the slightest edge over Democrats in governorships, 26-24.
Last week, U.S. World and News Report said only three of November’s 11 gubernatorial races were competitive — New Hampshire, Missouri and North Carolina.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, seeks a second term against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, seeks his first full-term, having taken over after the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens because of a sex scandal. State Auditor Nicole Galloway is the Democratic nominee.
U.S. News political analyst Lou Jacobson sums up New Hampshire’s race this way:
“Neither Democrat is as well-known as Sununu, and the late primary in September will make it hard for the winner to increase their profile,” he wrote.
“Still, a few factors give Democrats hope. Sununu faces a primary challenge from social conservative activist Karen Testerman, who could draw support from those on the right of the GOP who oppose coronavirus-related business closures. The primary will be held as schools are starting up again, so any problems with the reopening process could hurt Sununu.
“Meanwhile, in 2016, Sununu benefited from Trump’s efforts to win the state. Now, with more urgent fires for the Trump campaign to put out in states like Arizona and Ohio, a national GOP focus on New Hampshire is less likely.
“In the 2018 vote tallies, Sununu underperformed his approval ratings, so if his approval sinks to the low 60s, the race could become more attractive as a focus for national Democrats.”
Trump’s now-delayed visit and the Republican National Committee’s fortification of New Hampshire staffing in recent months suggest the GOP higher-ups will be all in for Sununu.
Also, Sununu already has won two elections despite left-wing political action and party committees spending much more than their GOP counterparts.
Gregg on Biden
Former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg wrote in a commentary last week that Vice President Joe Biden’s chances of beating Trump were “more than a possibility, and slightly less than a likelihood.”
But Gregg maintained his former Senate colleague’s biggest threat could come from within, namely the radical left wing of the Democratic Party.
“They will not tolerate for long not being in total control. They will have their vice president, but not their president. And they are a very impatient people and movement,” Gregg wrote in an op-ed for The Hill.
“The path to total control is clearly there once they have the vice presidency,” he wrote.
“It is the 25th Amendment. Within a few months of assuming the presidency, Biden may find himself being the next statue toppled as the socialist/progressive movement moves closer to power.
”Replacing him with his vice president could be deemed necessary to the cause.
”His colleagues could declare him too old to handle the presidency and remove him under the 25th Amendment.
”Et tu, Brute?
”The Cause will have been completed.”
Gregg’s commentary was uniformly condemned by leading Democrats.
“Of course Judd didn’t actually write this garbage. One of the Wall St. billion dollar interests that pay Judd HUGE to sit on their board of directors put this out for him,” Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley tweeted.
“He sold his soul to the devil to increase his substantial wealth.”
Rally quashes speculation
Trump’s personal investment in his now-postponed New Hampshire trip should put to rest the stunning published accounts that Trump might not be able to countenance certain defeat to Biden and could drop out of the race.
In the run-up to Saturday’s rained-out rally, Trump went to great lengths to hype it.
On Thursday, he did a lengthy interview with conservative radio talk show host and pal Howie Carr.Then he went on Heath’s talk show, where he warned NFL players they “better respect the American flag” and not kneel in protest during the national anthem.Trump is familiar with negative numbers, having trailed in all national polls leading up to his Electoral College win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
John Burt gets clicks
State Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, has never been shy about voicing his opinion. Occasionally it has gotten him in trouble with the PC police.
In a Facebook post Friday, critics maintain, he equated slavery to not being able to hunt in Canada.
Here’s the key part of that post:
“I would like to go shoot guns with my Canadian friends…just outside Montreal. I was told the border is closed.
“My family came to Vermont late 1760’s. Vermont was one of the most conservative states in the nation until they built the Interstates and VT fell to the extreme left starting in the 1980’s.
“Back when VT was conservative we (my family and friends) helped free slaves. Today’s VT has 10’s of thousands of slaves on the government dole.
“I would like to visit Canada and thought I could just use the old VT railroad that helped so many people to freedom to visit my friends to the north.”
Burt, a Vermont native, said later Friday he meant the comment as a joke.
“I also was making the point on how my friends on the left have enslaved tens of thousands of Vermonters by giving them government ‘taxpayers’ money. Now some need it but many do not. I read a while back the harm that does and keeps people down; then they get dependent on it, the way the article read, that is slavery,” Burt said.
No school grant — again
You have to give the minority Republicans on the Legislative Fiscal Committee points for persistence.
For the fourth time last Friday, they tried to revive a five-year, $46 million grant the Trump administration wants to give New Hampshire to expand public charter schools.
Once again, all the Democrats on the panel refused to take it off the table.
“I remain disappointed that partisanship has left New Hampshire charter schools and their students in limbo. The Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School is seeking start-up funds under a federal grant in order to educate 120 students who wish to attend this fall,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.
“Because of the party-line vote of the Fiscal Committee, these vital funds remain out of reach, and 120 New Hampshire students may not be able to pursue their best educational path.”