Trump's plan to celebrate space launch hits weather snag

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk off Marine One to board Air Force One for a trip to attend the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 Launch at Kennedy Space Center, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s plan to celebrate the first space launch of American astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade on Wednesday hit a snag when the mission was postponed at the last minute because of bad weather. But the president said he plans on returning to Florida for Saturday's rescheduled launch.

The president and first lady Melania Trump arrived at Cape Canaveral to a steady drizzle more than an hour before the scheduled 4:33 p.m. EDT liftoff. But officials announced shortly before the scheduled launch that it would have to be put off.

“Thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership,” Trump tweeted soon after beginning his flight back to Washington. “Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!”

Trump toured part of the Kennedy Space Center soon after his arrival on the Florida coast and offered well wishes to the astronauts, who were already on the rocket ship.

“Good luck and God be with you,” Trump said. "It’s a dangerous business, but they’re the best there is.”

But with just 16 minutes to go in the countdown, the launch was scrubbed because of the danger of lightning. Trump immediately headed for Air Force One and scrapped plans to deliver remarks at the space center.

It was Trump's latest visit to an important 2020 battleground state as the president emerges from his White House bubble and expands his travel itinerary. Earlier this month, Trump visited Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan, all states he narrowly won in 2016.

Trump used those trips to highlight the manufacturing of ventilators and personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, but also to mock Joe Biden, his Democratic rival for the presidency, and the Obama administration.