As Trump Rallies in the Southwest, Extreme Heat Threatens MAGA Faithful

As Trump Rallies in the Southwest, Extreme Heat Threatens MAGA Faithful

Political campaigns do their best to control as much as possible: their candidate, their messaging, their surrogates and their schedules. But what to do about the weather?

This week, with former President Donald J. Trump holding campaign events in the Southwest, his team is grappling with an extreme heat wave that has threatened the health of some of his most ardent fans.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump went to Phoenix for a campaign event at a megachurch, where hopeful attendees waited for hours to enter as the temperature climbed above 110 degrees. The heat was so scorching that some of those waiting collapsed, and 11 people were taken to hospitals to be treated for heat exhaustion.

The Trump campaign is taking steps to avoid similar circumstances on Sunday, when Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak at an outdoor rally at noon at a park in Las Vegas. Forecasts expect the temperature to be around 105 degrees.

Much of the western United States has been contending with a heat wave all week. Both Phoenix and Las Vegas have been under an excessive heat warning for days, with afternoon temperatures hovering in the triple digits.

And the temperatures have been historic: Phoenix peaked at 113 degrees on Thursday, and Las Vegas at 111, both daily records for those cities.

Still, Mr. Trump’s rally in Phoenix was inside, and those who made it in could expect relief — and air conditioning — that may be harder to find at his outdoor event in Nevada.

The Weather Service’s excessive heat warning in Las Vegas is set to expire at 9 p.m. on Saturday, the night before Mr. Trump’s rally. But temperatures are currently expected to hit a high of 104 on Sunday with little cloud cover.

Supporters eager to attend a Trump event will generally arrive hours before the candidate does, standing in long, slow-moving lines to get through security screenings and secure a good vantage point. The wait can be trying in normal circumstances.

The Trump campaign said it will have thousands of bottles of water on hand in Las Vegas to offer to people in line and to those already inside the security perimeter. It will put up tents around the park so that people can get out of the sun, and there will be at least one tent with air-conditioning.

Campaign staff will set up a number of misting fans to help cool off attendees. And though the Secret Service and security officials sometimes confiscate umbrellas over concern that they could be used as weapons, the Trump campaign said it would allow small ones at Sunday’s event to help provide shade.

Mr. Trump may contend with similar issues throughout the summer. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal outlook predicts above normal temperatures for the next three months in most of the United States.

Periods of extreme heat have grown more frequent, longer and more intense as climate change has warmed the planet.

Mr. Trump has downplayed the threat of climate change, saying in an interview this week with Sean Hannity on Fox News that “the only global warming that matters to me is nuclear global warming, because that’s the real deal.” And he mocked President Biden as being overly concerned about climate change, and for calling it an existential threat.

Still, Mr. Trump is no stranger to holding rallies in extreme weather or canceling them because conditions are too dangerous.

Earlier this year, as a blizzard swept into Iowa the week before its caucuses, Mr. Trump canceled all but one rally, citing the potential for severe weather.

At the one event he did hold, attendees braved subzero temperatures and extreme wind chills to wait in line. The campaign provided three heated coach buses where those waiting could warm up.

In April, Mr. Trump canceled a rally on an airport tarmac in North Carolina out of safety concerns as severe thunderstorms approached.

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