President Donald Trump is reportedly ‘shocked” and concerned over Saturday’s kickoff rally for his 2020 re-election campaign and changes may be coming to his campaign staff if attendance, interest, and poll numbers don’t markedly improve — and soon.
The New York Times reports that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were left disappointed by the rally’s size, particularly after campaign manager Brad Parscale gloated on Twitter late last week that ticket requests were numbering in the hundreds of thousands and more than a million Trump fans were expected in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the president’s first event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place,” the NYT said Monday.
Instead, the city’s BOK Center was under half full, with fire crews estimating the crowd size at just over 6,000 — far short of the venue’s 19,000-person capacity, and well short of the expected crowds, according to Forbes. A second, overflow event, which was supposed to feature brief speeches from both the president and vice president, was abruptly canceled after that space was left almost completely empty.
Social media users claimed Tik Tok influencers and “KPop stans” — rabid fans of South Korean pop groups — had snapped up tickets they never intended to use, leaving the Trump campaign convinced that they had oversold the event (though the “trolls” probably did not prevent any supporters from attending the event).
Parscale denied that report Sunday, saying, instead, that the news media stoked fears of protests and coronavirus, leaving the president’s fans no choice but to stay home, and accusing Tulsa police of being overly cautious, turning away thousands of would-be rally-goers.
The NYT claims that campaign and White House staff are now admitting it was a combination of several factors — social media tricksters, COVID-19 fears, and, potentially, lagging support for the president — and that Trump’s campaign management’s high expectations and lofty promises may be largely to blame for the empty rally. Others called the event an “unforced error.”
“They gave adversaries and media a gift. It was overconfidence,” one supporter told media.
CNN reports Monday that some of Trump’s closest advisors and some of the Republican party’s primary donors are pressing for changes to the president’s campaign management, pointing out that not only were his past campaign managers able to turn out large event crowds but that polls showing the president running within the margin of error with former Veep Joe Biden in a number of battleground states could be legitimate, making the president vulnerable.
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