Trump holds first campaign rally in 110 days
„The choice in 2020 is very simple. Do you want to bow before the left wing mob or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump touted the National Guard being deployed in various cities during recent ongoing protests, something his administration has pushed for repeatedly. He mentioned the so-called „autonomous zone” created by protesters in Seattle, which has become a favorite topic on Fox News, saying he was willing to . But, he said, „I may be wrong, but it’s probably better for us to just watch that disaster.”
Mr. Trump claimed the „unhinged left mob” wants to „desecrate our monuments,and cancel anyone who does not conform to their demands.” He said protesters want to „destroy our heritage.” He threatened to create a one-year jail term for anyone who burned an American flag.
„If Biden is elected, he will surrender your country to these monsters,” Mr. Trump declared.
Mr. Trump came onstage shortly after 8 p.m. and insisted „the silent majority is stronger than ever.” While the campaign had insisted 1 million tickets had been requested, the BOK Center did not appear full and Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence did not speak outside to an overflow crowd as originally planned.
As for the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Trump called coronavirus testing a „double-edge sword” because it created more positive numbers. „That’s the bad part, when you do testing to that extent, you find more people, so I say to people, slow the testing down please,” Mr. Trump said. Health experts say more testing is needed to identify those infected so they can be isolated to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump also continued to blame China for the pandemic, saying there are a lot of different names but it should be called the „Chinese virus.” He also used the term „kung flu.” Asian Americans have faced anduring the pandemic.
Mr. Trump didn’t talk about the shutdown in great detail except to say „we got to open schools in the fall.” Despite the record high unemployment numbers, Mr. Trump touted the economy and insisted that „your 401ks and money itself would be worthless” under a Biden presidency.
Mr. Trump also described his side of a pair of viral videos that showed him walking slowly down a ramp at West Point and awkwardly drinking a glass of water during his commencement address at the Military Academy. At one point during the story, he drank a glass of water as the crowd cheered „four more years!”
Ahead of the rally, a combination of volunteers and staff from local health authorities (including the Tulsa County Health Department) handed out blue surgical masks to attendees. Everyone who wore a mask was also handed a Trump-Pence sticker. Donning masks, gloves, and in some cases, lab coats, these individuals also conducted no-contact forehead temperature checks under sterile-looking white tents.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh confirmed to CBS News that six members of the president’s advance team in Tulsa had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the campaign, the staffers were immediately quarantined and would not have contact with any rally attendees. Inside the arena, traffic appeared free flowing as attendees shuffled past tables of hand sanitizer, which was optional, and treated as such. Volunteers handed out tiny „germX” bottles, though tables also came equipped with strong sanitizer that stung to the touch. A row of water bottles and portable toilets appeared next as supporters marched past a giant „Trump – Pence//Welcome to Tulsa” billboard. Those outside the arena were crammed between heavy duty steel barriers. A band played loudly on a stage under a green and blue light show. Audiences were gathered in a mosh-pit style. Attendees told CBS News they wanted to hear „unity” from Mr. Trump. For some, that meant an „end to looting and rioting.” For others, that meant „we need to do something about the police.” Concerns about the coronavirus again ranged from „it’s a hoax” to „it’s a serious concern, but I could not miss this.” One woman said she’s going to stay in a hotel Saturday night because her niece is frightened by the prospect of more protests. While steel barriers funneled crowds into confined spaces to give the illusion of a packed house, the surrounding areas were sparse and free flowing. There were scattered protests outside the arena. For about a half hour, both Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters shouted over one another then rallied down the road to a public entryway into the rally. A line of police blocked one entrance, closing steel barricades. There was an arrest made at 11:30 a.m. CT Saturday morning by Tulsa police, after Trump campaign staff requested an individual be moved from the secure area of the rally.
Trump back in rally form in Tulsa, but the promised crowd doesn’t show
“We begin, we begin our campaign!” Trump said exuberantly as he took the stage at Bank of Oklahoma Center before a crowd that fell far short of filling the 19,000-seat arena.
Trump quickly blamed the “fake news” for discouraging turnout and said “we had some very bad people outside, they were doing some very bad things,” intimating that his supporters had been prevented from entering the arena.
The president then assured those in attendance that “the silent majority is stronger than ever before.”
Settling into a version of the stump speech that he had delivered many times until he suspended campaigns in March as the coronavirus pandemic swept across America, Trump hit all of his familiar themes: his trade deals with China, rebuilding the military, his appointment of hundreds of conservative judges, and told a long anecdote about how much money he saved on the purchase of a new airplane to replace Air Force One.
Missing from his repertoire was his baiting the camera crews to pan the arena and show the size and enthusiasm of the crowd and thanking the fire marshals for letting him exceed the nominal capacity of the auditorium.
Trump mentioned what he termed “the Chinese virus” nearly 10 minutes into his remarks and gave himself high marks for his response to it, emphasizing the steps he took to shore up the price of oil. “It looked like we were in big trouble, and I got it together,” Trump said, adding that he had called the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia and “got our energy back to almost $40 a barrel.”
Trump told his crowd that “I have done a phenomenal job” with the pandemic, pointing to the number of COVID-19 tests administered in the U.S. to date. But he also complained that more testing had revealed more cases of the disease caused by coronavirus.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test,” Trump said.
He then imitated a public health official examining a patient, “If you have the sniffles, it’s a case!”
Turning to the Black Lives Matter protests that have erupted since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Trump derided the demonstrators as “anarchists” and accused the media of hypocrisy for expressing concern over the health risks presented by his rallies but not the protests.
Health experts have warned that the virus spreads most easily in crowded indoor spaces.
On defense after weeks of falling poll numbers and a blizzard of negative media coverage, Trump spent more than 10 minutes attempting to explain why he had trouble descending a ramp following a graduation speech at West Point Military Academy. “It was like an ice skating rink,” Trump said of the ramp, adding that the leather soles of his dress shoes were slippery.
“I can’t fall with the fake news watching,” Trump said he told a general who helped guide him down the ramp.
Trump also addressed scrutiny of his difficulty bringing a bottle of water to his lips during the West Point speech, explaining that he had saluted so many of the cadets that his arm was tired.
“I don’t want to get water on the tie,” Trump added, the recounting of the ramp and the water bottle eating up more than 10 minutes of his speech.
Trump derided stories written that speculated he may suffer from Parkinson’s disease, but then quickly added that Joe Biden, his Democratic rival in the general election, wasn’t healthy or sharp enough for the job.
Focusing his updated stump speech on Biden, who secured the Democratic presidential nomination since Trump held his last rally in March, Trump portrayed the former vice president as a “puppet” for the left wing of his party. The president also turned criticism of his own views on race into an attack on his rival.
“Joe Biden is a shameless hypocrite,” Trump said, for eulogizing past Senate colleagues who were supporters of segregation, adding, “America should not take lectures on racial justice from Joe Biden — sleepy Joe.”
But the president’s first big reelection rally since the coronavirus put an end to large public gatherings in America did not live up to the expectations his campaign had set for it in the weeks leading up to the event.
First, the Tulsa rally was originally scheduled for Friday, which is Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in America. With Black Lives Matter protests raging across the country over the killing of African-American George Floyd by Minneapolis police, that date immediately sparked an outcry that led Trump to push the rally back a day “out of respect for this Holiday.”
Further adding to the public relations debacle, Trump bragged in a Thursday interview with the Wall Street Journal that he had “made Juneteenth very famous” by originally selecting June 19 as the date for his rally.
Despite warnings from public health officials that large indoor gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic greatly increased the risks of transmission of COVID-19, the campaign pressed ahead with its plan to hold the rally on Saturday.
Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that the campaign had received more than 1 million requests for tickets, even though those who said they wanted to attend the rally were forced to sign an electronic liability waiver acknowledging the risks of catching COVID-19.
During the past week, Trump staffers were reported to be hopeful that a large rally would help lift the president’s spirits after weeks of declining poll numbers and economic turmoil resulting from the pandemic.
But with just an hour remaining before the start of the event, it became clear that the crowd was nowhere near filling the 19,000-capacity BOK Arena. There were empty seats in the stands and just a fraction of floorspace was filled as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Diamond & Silk and Lara and Eric Trump began speaking. An outside space meant to hold an overflow crowd of tens of thousands of spectators was deserted, and the appearance of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence outside was canceled.
The outdoor stage for @realDonaldTrump’s Rally in Tulsa being built.
This will be the 1st time that POTUS speaks to BOTH crowds in person – inside & outside.
If you come to the rally and don’t get into the BOK Center before it’s full, you can still see the President in person!
While those who did attend the rally (most of them not wearing masks) expressed their enthusiasm for the president’s message, there was no disguising the large swath of empty seats in the upper tier for what Trump’s team had billed as the kickoff to the general election campaign. Less than half-full, the rally could not be spun as anything other than a disappointment for the president — although the campaign tried.
The director of communications for the campaign, Tim Murtagh, blamed “protesters” who blocked access to the metal detectors outside the arena.
Protestors interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters, blocking access to metal detectors, preventing people from entering the rally in Tulsa. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jun/20/anti-trump-protesters-interfere-presidents-rally-f/ …
Anti-Trump protesters ‘interfere’ with rally, campaign cla
The Trump campaign canceled planned outdoor speeches by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at their comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night after protesters
Parscale himself echoed that explanation for the tepid turnout, though there was no real sign in Tulsa of the missing attendees the campaign had anticipated.
Radical protestors, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally.
They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering.
Thanks to the 1,000s who made it anyway!https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jun/20/anti-trump-protesters-interfere-presidents-rally-f/ …
Anti-Trump protesters ‘interfere’ with president’s r
The Trump campaign canceled planned outdoor speeches by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at their comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night after protesters
Whether protesters, health concerns or a lack of enthusiasm kept Trump’s supporters from turning out in large numbers on Saturday, the spectacle of empty seats and an outdoor stage being dismantled as the rally began left viewers across the country with very different images than the campaign had hoped for. They were also unlikely to please the man the rally was meant to bolster.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma Saturday following days of speculation about the impact the event would have on spreading the coronavirus and how large the crowd would be.
The president used the opportunity to brag about his coronavirus response while downplaying its current threat, slam the media and some of his Democratic rivals, as well as to defend confederate statues.
Here are some of the takeaways from Trump’s rally:
Smaller crowd in attendance, majority did not wear mask
Trump’s rally to revive his campaign during the coronavirus pandemic boasted a smaller crowd than his usual campaign events, with much of the upper sections of the 19,000-seat BOK Center stadium remaining empty.
An overcrowd event outside was cancelled and broken down by Secret Service before the president started speaking inside, due to low attendance.
Prior to the event, the Trump campaign had boasted one million tickets were requested, and Trump predicted there would not be an empty seat.
Trump’s campaign blamed the low turnout for the rally, as well as the scratched event, on „radical protesters” as well as members of the media, who they claimed „attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters.”
Journalists on the ground have refuted seeing large numbers of individuals turned away because of rowdy protesters.
Trump, who often kicks off his campaign rallies by crowing about the size of the crowd, was forced to use his high stakes rally to explain why turnout was less than expected.
Echoing a line from his campaign manager, Trump blamed the smaller than expected crowds on media coverage leading up to the event, and blamed protesters for his decision to not deliver expected remarks at the scheduled outdoor overflow event.
“You are warriors,” Trump told the crowd, suggesting that they had turned out despite the coverage leading up to the rally. “I’ve been watching the fake news for weeks now. And everything is negative. Today it was like, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Additionally, the majority of attenders did not wear masks despite the campaign handing them out. However, they were not enforced. Several U.S. lawmakers in attendance did not wear masks, as well.
‘I did a phenomenal job’
Trump shrugged off the looming threat from the coronavirus, despite several states reporting record-high numbers of cases and hospitalizations in the past few days, including Oklahoma.
Local health officials had called for the rally to be postponed out of concern about the spread of the virus.
He continued to boast of his administration’s response to the pandemic, and again blamed China for spreading the virus.
„We – I – did a phenomenal job with it,” Trump declared.
Trump said he told his administration, „slow the testing down, please” reiterating his argument that higher test numbers led to higher case counts.
He imitated a doctor talking about a 10-year-old with “sniffles” who would conclude “that’s a case!”
The president said the governor of New Jersey told him only one person under the age of 18 died, which the president said shows that young people have a “great immune system”
“Let’s open the schools please!” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the president’s coronaivrus task force, said earlier this week while more testing does result in more cases, the recent surge in some states „cannot be explained by increased testing.”
Calling it the ‘Kung Flu’ during his speech
The president at one point also called COVID-19 the „kung flu” and the „Chinese virus.”
“It’s a disease without question,” Trump told the audience. “I can name 19 different versions of names. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu. What’s the difference?”
Public health officials have discouraged terms that associate a pandemic with a place. Trump frequently used „Chinese virus” in the early weeks of the pandemic but stopped using it as frequently.
One of his own advisers, Kellyanne Conway, in March called reports of a White House official referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” as “highly offensive.”
COVID-19 deaths neared 120,000 Saturday in the U.S.
‘Demolish our heritage’: Trump defends Confederate statues
Trump’s rally, just a day after Juneteenth and located in a city with the site of one of the worst race massacres in US history, defended confederate monuments around the country.
Trump claimed the left and protesters only desired „to demolish our heritage” as demonstrators have been tearing down confederate statues following weeks of protests over racial injustice.
Protesters continue to target historical symbols of the Confederacy. Late Friday, protesters in Washington, D.C., and in Raleigh, North Carolina, toppled statues.
The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man whose neck was pinned under the knee of a white police officer for nearly nine minutes in May.
Trump barely spoke about race, and did not mention Floyd.
Trump targets Democratic politicians and critics
Trump used his rally to hit back at some of his Democratic critics, including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
The president swiped at Bowser for the Black lives Matter demonstrations in Washington, D.C, and Ocasio-Cortez for her environmental views.
Bowser responded, tweeting that there’s „a lot of empty room” in Trump’s head, „just like tonight’s half empty Tulsa arena.”
Trump called Omar a „hate-filled America-bashing socialist” whose goal is to make America „just like the country from which she came, Somalia. No government, no police, no safety, no nothing.”
Omar, a representative from Minnesota, fled Somalia as a refugee and has been a citizen since she was 17. Her father died from COVID-19 a few days ago.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The ‘Kung Flu’ and other takeaways from Trump’s Tulsa rally