Trump cancels North Carolina rally due to storm in first public address since New York trial

Former president calls for debates with Joe Biden ahead of the November election

Donald Trump called for debates with Joe Biden before cancelling his own appearance at a planned rally in Wilmington, North Carolina as a rainstorm approached the airport where it was staged on Saturday.

Mr Trump called as he was approaching the international airport to tell rally goers that the event would be rescheduled “bigger and better”. This would have been the first time he addressed supporters in public after a week of relative silence in a New York courtroom.

“I’m devastated that this could happen but we want to keep everybody safe,” Mr Trump said, his voice amplified by speakers to thousands of supporters, many of whom had lined up since early morning in hot and humid conditions.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 people gathered on the tarmac at the Aero Center at Wilmington airport, though organisers had only given supporters a few days of advanced notice.


The former president has spent the last week at the defence table at a trial in New York City fending off criminal charges of campaign finance fraud. Ahead of his appearance, the Trump campaign splashed a social media message posted to Truth Social in which Trump called for debates with Joe Biden, the US president and his rival in the November election.

“I am calling for Debates, ANYTIME ANYWHERE ANYPLACE,” the post said. “The debates can be run by the corrupt DNC or their subsidiary, the Commission on Presidential debates (CPD).”

Mr Trump and the Republican National Convention pulled out of the Commission on Presidential Debates after the final debates of the 2020 campaign season.

Wilmington is home turf for Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law and newly installed chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

North Carolina voted for Mr Trump in 2016 and 2020 but in increasingly narrow margins. Demographic changes and the impact of changes to abortion law may make the state much more competitive for Biden this year. – Guardian