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  • Writer's pictureNathan Max

Review: Tulsa Rally Falls Flat

Photo credit: Associated Press. Donald Trump spoke for nearly two hours to a half-empty arena in Tulsa on Saturday night.

Donald Trump’s much ballyhooed return to rally-world landed with a gigantic thud.

In classic Trump over-promise, under-deliver fashion, assurances of overflow crowds of adoring supporters never materialized. Instead, Trump bored the nation with one of his vintage, rambling, two-hour diatribes rife with racism, prevarications and lengthy self-serving anecdotes.

The day started poorly for the president, and it just kept getting worse.

First, news came out that six of the event’s staffers tested positive for COVID-19. Then, police arrested a local teacher wearing an “I can’t breathe,” T-shirt for seemingly no reason, as she protested that she had a ticket to the event. Apparently, Trump’s campaign staff requested she be removed.

The Trump campaign advertised they had more than one million ticket requests. That might have been true, because they appeared to be caught completely off-guard by the low turnout.

Trump expected a packed arena at the 19,199-seat BOK Center, with a massive overflow crowd outside watching on a big screen, akin to a typical fan zone at the FIFA World Cup. The campaign even scheduled Trump to speak to the expected outdoor crowd before heading inside.

But at the moment that speech was to occur, workers were breaking the area down. There was no overflow crowd, which the campaign explained away with a ridiculous lie about media and protesters blocking access.

Inside, Eric Trump gave a speech in which he called protesters, “animals,” a harbinger of more racism to be spewed later from his father.

When Donald Trump took the stage to an arena with a mostly empty upper bowl, he referred to the novel coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus,” and the “Kung Flu.” Then came a lengthy explanation describing in painstaking detail why he looked so feeble and deteriorated at West Point last weekend.

Trump proudly proved he could drink a glass of water with only one hand after explaining his arm had been sore the week before from saluting so many cadets. He also provided a nonsensical reason for his difficultly walking down a ramp. It was slippery.

All in all, it was a fairly mundane outing for the president, who described his own performance during the speech as average. That was a generous self-evaluation. This has been a particularly bad week for Trump, who lost two major Supreme Court decisions, has had to deal with disturbing revelations from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book, and botched his attempt to fire the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in an attempt to cover up his and his cohorts’ criminality.

The best result from Saturday’s speech is that the lower turnout could somewhat mitigate the anticipated explosion in COVID-19 cases to come. It will probably still be bad, as virtually nobody wore a mask and attendees did not physically distance. But a fully packed arena, and an overflow crowd of tens of thousands more outside, would have been significantly worse.

Trump had been hoping tonight would be the catalyst to jump-start his moribund campaign. Challenger Joe Biden leads by 12 points in the latest Fox News poll, which was slightly better than the 14-point deficit for the president in the last CNN poll. Those are almost insurmountable numbers to overcome with less than five months remaining until the election.

On Saturday night, a weary public exhausted from two major crises in the last three months heard more of the same shtick. Law and Order. The media hates him. Casual racism. We get it.

At this point, it’s a broken record spinning the same played-out tune.


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