Trump plans New Hampshire rally as he works to re-energize campaign

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd as he arrives onstage at his first re-election campaign rally in several months in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump plans an outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, the campaign’s second of the coronavirus era following one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month that failed to draw the crowds his advisers predicted.

The campaign’s announcement on Sunday of the planned rally comes at the end of a holiday weekend that saw the Republican reaffirm his vow to defeat what he called the “radical left,” as polls show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump’s campaign said the rally would be held at 8 p.m. at Portsmouth International Airport and, in a nod to a national rise in coronavirus cases, would provide hand sanitizer and face masks.

“We look forward to so many freedom-loving patriots coming to the rally and celebrating America,” Hogan Gidley, Trump 2020 national press secretary, said in a statement.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said the rally would “only further highlight the chaos” Trump had caused in his “woefully inadequate” handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump narrowly lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Rising coronavirus cases in 39 U.S. states cast a shadow over U.S. Fourth of July celebrations this weekend and health experts worried that holiday parties would cause a further spike in infections that could overwhelm hospitals.

In the first four days of July alone, 15 states reported record increases in new cases of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 3 million Americans and killed about 130,000, according to a Reuters tally.

Hoping to end his slump in the polls, Trump is considering making staff changes and ways to broaden his message to draw support beyond his conservative base. Aides say he wants to focus on his ability to lead the country’s economic comeback, his one bright spot in polls.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney

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