Tulsa rally's low turnout leaves Trump fuming, campaign blames 'fake news' on Covid-19 and protests for debacle
The president's campaign has faced flak from his top aides as well as pro-Trump media for the poor show
President Donald Trump has just resumed his campaign for the November presidential election and he had high hopes for the Tulsa event in Oklahoma, on Saturday, June 20. But the much-hyped rally saw a low turnout and it reportedly left the maverick president furious. Trump has been eager to hold public rallies that have remained suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed almost 120,000 lives in the US. The Tulsa rally was organized despite the pandemic, protests against the killing of George Floyd and the Juneteenth controversy, but the end result was far from satisfactory for the incumbent seeking a second term.
The Trump campaign slammed the "fake news media" for warning people against attending the rally during a pandemic. They also blamed the protests against racial injustice for the poor turnout. They also claimed that millions of people still saw the event online, but those who did see the event online said they watched it only for fun. "Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don´t know what they're talking about or how our rallies work. Reporters who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-Pop fans — without contacting the campaign for comment — behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said.
Tulsa leaves Trump fuming
But whatever his campaign did as damage-control, Trump was far from impressed. According to several sources close to the White House, the Tulsa outcome was a disappointment for those who had hoped that the president was making a thundering return to his campaign trail after some crucial months were lost because of the pandemic shutdown, NBC News reported.
Even the build-up to the event, which was scheduled for June 19 but was later postponed by a day, was not to Trump's liking. The NBC report added that the president was upset with his top political aides before the rally began after his campaign revealed that six people from the advance team on the ground in Tulsa tested positive for Covid-19 and they included Secret Service personnel. Trump was livid as to why the information was leaked and felt upset that the pre-rally coverage was dominated by the revelation.
After the event, advisers and strategists in the Republican camp conceded that the event turned out to be a no-show and a key opportunity was missed to shift the momentum in favor of the president. It was also unclear if there would be another rally, although they said there is still time to recover from the images of the empty stands at the BOK Center, which was the venue. A paltry number of 6,200 supporters eventually occupied the general admission sections, fire officials said. The campaign was confident that the venue would overflow as nearly a million people had responded to requests for admission.
Trump looked tired while returning from Tulsa
Parscale was facing most of the blame for he aggressively touted the number of registrations though sources close to him said his job was still safe, the report added. The president looked tired as he returned to the White House on Sunday (June 21) morning from the rally. He claimed "thugs" blocked his supporters from attending the rally. The president was seen with his red tie undone, something which is not usual, and holding a red 'MAGA' cap in his hand.
Even Trump's close aides were not happy with the turnout. CNN cited sources saying that the president's senior advisers — Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — were upset with Parscale over the attendance in Tulsa. Even Fox News, known for its pro-Trump stand, was not impressed and its host Chris Wallace on Sunday slammed a senior adviser to the president’s campaign saying by denying the reality in Tulsa, they made themselves look silly. Meanwhile, insiders of the Trump campaign were worried that neither the president nor his 2020 team had a coherent message to convince the voters why he should get to serve a second term.