Donald Trump

Protests, TikTok Teens and Mask Mandates: What to Know About Trump's NH Rally

The event is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. in Portsmouth

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UPDATE: The Trump campaign has postponed the rally, citing the approach of Tropical Storm Fay.

President Donald Trump is set to hold an outdoor rally Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The campaign rally at Portsmouth International Airport will come three weeks after an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the president’s first of the COVID-19 era, drew a smaller-than-expected crowd amid concerns of rising infections in the region.

Here's everything you need to know about the New Hampshire rally:

Rally details

The "Make America Great Again Rally" is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Doors open at 4.

The rally will be held at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, a former Air Force base located a short distance from the region's two major malls and just miles from the Maine and Massachusetts borders.

"President Trump’s record-setting accomplishments in record-setting time have improved the lives of all Americans. He rebuilt, restored and renewed our great nation once, and he’ll do it again," said Hogan Gidley, Trump 2020 National Press Secretary, in announcing the rally. "We look forward to so many freedom-loving patriots coming to the rally and celebrating America, the greatest country in the history of the world."

Those wishing to attend can register for up to two tickets apiece on the Trump 2020 website.

A pro-Trump rally to welcome the president to the Granite State is also being held Friday at 5 p.m. at Market Square in Portsmouth.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party slammed Trump for his response to the pandemic in a statement following the news of Saturday's upcoming rally in Portsmouth.

Counter protests and TikTok teens

Black Lives Matter of Nashua and Black Lives Matter Manchester announced Wednesday they are co-organizing a protest hours before the rally.

The protest will take place at Portsmouth International Airport from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"This will be a peaceful protest before Trump is scheduled to speak. We are working to coordinate medical professionals and peacekeepers. Please wear a mask and social distance," the organizations said in an email.

In a sign of virtual protest, The Boston Globe reports that TikTok and Twitter users are targeting the Trump rally, signing up for tickets even though they have no intention of attending. It's a tactic they also used ahead of Trump's Tulsa rally in an effort to drive down attendance and embarrass the president.

In the aftermath of Tulsa

Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is reporting a record high number of COVID-19 cases more than two weeks after Trump's rally there.

Democrats say that's a huge problem. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley says the numbers in Oklahoma are troubling.

"We're deeply concerned," Buckley said.

State Rep. Al Baldasaro, chair of the Trump 2020 campaign in New Hampshire, said there's no evidence the rally is to blame for the surge in cases.

"That's a guessing game, you know," he said. "It's not right, this is political, they hate the president."

Mask mandate?

The Trump campaign’s announcement of the Portsmouth rally noted that “there will be ample access to hand sanitizer and all attendees will be provided a face mask that they are strongly encouraged to wear.” Many people at Trump’s rally in Tulsa skipped wearing masks, and relatively few masks were seen during his speech at South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore last Friday.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has said he won't issue a statewide mandate to wear masks ahead of the rally but strongly recommends that attendees wear one. He said if he greets the president when he arrives at the airport, he will wear a mask.

Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted is also resisting calls from come city officials for a mask mandate.

“I don’t know how I would enforce it," he told NHPR. "We are not a home-rule state. We cannot just go and create laws. It has to be backed up by legislation and the state of New Hampshire.”

"I will wear a mask, I actually have a mask in my pocket right here," Baldasaro said, pulling out a "Trump 2020" mask. "The Democrats hate it."

Asked if he would be wearing it Saturday, Baldasaro said he would be.

Local businesses raise concerns

Some Maine business owners just a few miles from the New Hampshire rally site said Monday they are concerned about a potential COVID-19 outbreak caused by people from around the region attending the event.

"The last thing I need are people that aren't wearing masks, that aren't socially distanced, that aren't safe," said Glen Jodoin, co-owner of The Corner Pub in Kittery.

One New Hampshire restaurant located near the site of the rally even decided to close for a week rather than risk exposing its employees to the coronavirus.

The Country View Restaurant in Greenland announced Wednesday in an email and on its website that after many discussions with employees, they decided to temporarily close Thursday with plans to reopen July 16.

"Saturday's rally event at Pease is just a few short miles [from] our establishment and is expected to attract a lot of out of state people from all across the country to the area so we are taking the necessary precautions to keep our employees and valued local customers safe," read a statement from the restaurant.

With news that President Donald Trump is heading to the Granite State to hold a rally later in the week, some business owners in nearby Maine are worried about a potential coronavirus outbreak caused by people attending the event.
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