Former President Donald Trump had intended to seize his first free Saturday since his first criminal trial began, in New York City, with a large rally in a crucial swing state as well as a fundraiser to shore up his support among the kinds of conservative backers who can help him eat into rival Joe Biden's cash advantage.

But those plans were derailed, in part, by a severe weather system rolling over the Southeast -- including North Carolina, where many Trump supporters had already gathered at the Aero Center Wilmington by the time the event was called off amid a severe thunderstorm warning.

"We want to keep everybody safe. That's the most important thing," Trump was heard saying in a live phone call blasted out to the crowd gathered at the rally in Wilmington, adding that they will "just do a rain check."

The event would have been Trump's first campaign rally since the New York criminal trial started early in the week. He has denied all wrongdoing in the case but is confined to the courtroom most weekdays, except Wednesday, for a proceeding that is expected to take up to two months.

The rally's postponement was unexpected but marked something of a setback for Trump in the early phase of his general election fight against President Biden.

Trump only narrowly won North Carolina over Biden in 2020; holding it will likely be key to his chances in November.

But the trial in New York -- the first of four that Trump faces -- has complicated his campaign schedule, and while he has made some efforts to maximize his time in the city outside of court, including a stop last week at a Harlem bodega after a day of jury selection, he has made notably fewer appearances before voters than Biden in recent weeks.

The Biden campaign contends that Trump has been lagging their swing state efforts even before the trial began.

MORE: Melania Trump makes rare appearance on 2024 campaign trail

Separately on Saturday, Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, held dueling fundraisers in different states, with the former president raising money for his campaign and the Republican Party in North Carolina in the afternoon -- ahead of the canceled rally -- and the former first lady raising money for a conservative LGBTQ+ group at their Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, in the evening.

Especially for Melania Trump, it was a rare appearance at a fundraising event as she has mostly stayed away from the former president's campaign trail this election cycle and instead only occasionally been seen at private events at his properties.

The last two times she was seen publicly were at a major Palm Beach fundraiser for the Trump campaign and Republicans earlier this month, where they said they raised more than $50 million -- and last month at a Palm Beach polling location, where the former president voted in the Florida Republican primary.

She headlined the fundraiser for Log Cabin Republicans, the largest 501(c)4 nonprofit organization representing LGBT conservatives in the United States.

The fundraiser was co-hosted by a slew of longtime Donald Trump allies and prominent Republican donors, including a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who also served as acting director of national intelligence in the Trump administration. He was the first openly gay person to hold a Cabinet-level position in the United States.

A former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and an active fundraiser of the former president, Bill White, and White's husband, Bryan Eure, were also among the co-hosts.

Other notable guests and co-hosts included former Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, who lost to Democratic Sen. John Fetterman in the 2022 election; Fox News CEO Roger Ailes' widow, Elizabeth Ailes; longtime Republican donor Saul Fox and Deborah Magowan, the wife of former Giants Chairman Peter Magowan, according to a source and an invitation for the fundraiser.

MORE: In rare appearance, Melania Trump to headline Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for conservative LGBT group

The invitation showed that each ticket at Melania Trump's fundraiser cost $10,000.

Ahead of the event Saturday morning, Grenell posted on X that Melania Trump "will launch the most aggressive campaign we've ever seen from Republicans to win support from gay and lesbian Americans."

"We have largely achieved equality in America for gays," Grenell wrote, praising the United States as the champion of freedom and liberties and throwing support for Donald Trump.

"He is the best candidate for our safety, security and prosperity," he continued. "He sees you as 100% equal - it's up to you to be responsible, hardworking and successful. Anyone telling you that you are oppressed in America or that you need special side agreements because you're gay is only seeking to control you. Break out from their condescending cult-like manipulations."

"You can be anything you want to be in America," Grenell wrote, claiming Trump will win a significant amount of the gay vote in 2024.

While the former president differentiated himself from some other leading conservatives in embracing gay people, his anti-trans positions have drawn broader outcry from the LGBTQ+ community.

An organizer of the fundraiser told ABC News that the event sold out within 36 hours and has already raised more than $1 million, with additional people donating even if they couldn't attend the event.

Roughly 70 people from all across the country -- California, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. -- were expected to attend the event, the organizer said ahead of time.

"For the first lady to choose this as her first campaign event is an honor to the conservative Republican gay community," the organizer, who asked not to be quoted by name to be more candid, told ABC News. "Definitely negates the false narrative that Biden and the Democrats have peddled about the Trump administration."

"Trump has grown the Republican base of all types of minorities unlike any other Republican has," the organizer continued. "The Log Cabin has a clear plan of how this money will be spent to educate voters about President Trump's record and to help him win with the gay community in swing states."

Eure, a senior vice president at insurance brokerage firm WillisTowersWatson, expressed gratitude toward the former first lady and maintained that many gay voters are concerned about their future after three years under the Biden administration.

"Gay voters are no longer one-issue voters," Eure said, noting he and his husband have been legally married for almost 13 years. Adding that the 2024 election is a battle for a second term for both Biden and Trump, he said, "We know what we are getting with both of these candidates -- the only question to ask is were you better off with Trump or Biden? We believe President Trump is the only choice for us."

Melania Trump has maintained a close relationship with Log Cabin Republicans over the years, headlining their annual gala at Mar-a-Lago in 2021 and receiving the group's Spirit of Lincoln award, for her role in "helping children reach their full potential" and "championing a more inclusive Republican Party." In 2022, Donald Trump himself headlined Log Cabin Republicans' Spirit of Lincoln gala held at Mar-a-Lago, where he told the audience, "we are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard."

Meanwhile in Charlotte, North Carolina, Saturday afternoon, Trump fundraised with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley, who was previously the North Carolina Republican Party's chairman, as well as Trump's daughter-in-law and new RNC Co-chair Lara Trump.

MORE: Trump's Palm Beach fundraiser, joined by Melania Trump, rakes in $50 million, organizers say

Ticketed from $5,000 per couple for general admission to $250,000 per couple to be on the host-committee, the fundraiser was expected to raise at least $5 million, according to the event's invitation and the organizer. A photo opportunity with the former president is priced at $25,000 per couple and a roundtable would cost $100,000 per couple.

Money raised from this fundraiser would be split among the Trump campaign, Trump's Save America PAC, which has footed much of Trump's legal bills, the RNC and 40 other state GOP committees.

Notable co-hosts of the fundraiser included North Carolina's National Committeeman Ed Broyhill, who was previously Trump's North Carolina Finance Committee chair in 2016, and Army veteran Scott Greenblatt, who runs a veterans claims consulting company.

MORE: 5 big takeaways from Day 4 of Trump's hush money trial

After the fundraiser, Trump was scheduled to head over to the rally in Wilmington but it was canceled at the last minute due to inclement weather.

"There seems to be some thunder and lighting and it's a pretty big storm. So if you don't mind, we're going to have to just do a rain check," Trump told the crowd. "I'm so sad -- I'm in North Carolina right now and waiting to go in, but they say the weather is really getting bad. Really really getting bad. So we have to rely on the weather service."

The North Carolina fundraiser comes on the heels of Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper saying President Joe Biden can win the state despite Trump carrying the state both in 2016 and 2020. Both Biden and Harris campaigned in North Carolina last month, highlighting their health care messaging.

Broyhill, one of the co-hosts of the Trump fundraiser, however, told ABC News that North Carolina is a GOP stronghold, claiming Republicans success in down ballot seats.

"I don't know what people talk about when they say this is a purple state," Broyhill said. "There is no chance in hell that Joe Biden is going to come close to winning North Carolina."

"There are quite a large number of top donors that are flying in, and once they arrive, their expectations will far surpass 5 million," Broyhill said of the upcoming fundraiser.

2024-04-20T11:25:58Z dg43tfdfdgfd