Politics

Trump stokes cultural wars, however low turnout mars Tulsa marketing campaign

President Donald Trump arrives at a rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump returned to one of his favorite pastimes on Saturday night: headlining a big, brazen Trump campaign.

After three months without a major campaign event, Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was billed as a kind of reunion for the president and his most passionate supporters, some of whom had been waiting in line for days to make sure they got a seat.

For Trump and his inner circle, the promise of a loud, packed MAGA rally in a deep red state was an opportunity for the President to leave the catastrophic spring of 2020 behind and fuel his army of loyal supporters. and to give his declining re-election campaign a shot in the arm.

Trump spoke about the rally last week, saying almost a million people had requested tickets to participate. "We have an arena with 22,000 seats, but I think we will also take the congress hall next door, and that will be 40,000 … We expect a record-breaking amount. We have never had an empty seat and we will definitely not be in Oklahoma be. "

But they had empty places. According to the Tulsa Fire Marshal, which had a little less than 6,200 participants in the Bank of Oklahoma Arena with 19,000 seats on Saturday evening, it was around 13,000.

A supporter sits in the top seats during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

Shortly before Trump took the stage, the construction workers dismantled the outdoor "overflow" room near the arena after it became clear that there were not enough people to fill it.

Trump and his campaign quickly accused the demonstrators outside the arena of deterring potential rallyers. They also accused the media of reporting extensively on the risks associated with attending a massive indoor gathering during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when neither masks nor social distancing are required.

Early Sunday morning, it was unclear exactly what caused the massive discrepancy between the number of ticket requests the Trump campaign received and the number of people who showed up in Tulsa.

However, several reports suggest that a loose network of young people on TikTok may have reserved thousands of tickets they never wanted to use, and encouraged their friends to do the same. If this had actually happened, it would be a stunning political stroke of the 21st century.

Supporters listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak at a rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

The subject of dangerous protesters, which pose a threat to law-abiding Americans, ran on the stage for almost two hours during Trumps and served as a thread that weaved and blurred various cultural war issues that seemed to stimulate Trump more than traditional issues such as immigration and talking Jobs.

"The awkward left-wing mob tries to destroy our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not meet their demands for absolute and complete control. We do not adapt . " Trump said during an expanded defense of the Confederate monuments.

The National Guard stands in front of anti-Trump protesters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Donald Trump is holding a rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

"That is why we are actually here. This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything that is important to us as Americans. They want to destroy our legacy so that they can enforce their new oppression regime instead."

Trump spent relatively little time on the coronavirus pandemic, which killed more than 120,000 Americans in the past five months. He also did not acknowledge the fact that six members of his advance campaign team had just tested positive for coronavirus.

The few times Trump has triggered the pandemic has usually been to downplay the risk of the virus or defend his government's slow response and months of testing.

Corona virus "Testing is a double-edged sword," Trump said. "We have now tested 25 million people, which is probably 20 million people more than anyone else. Germany has done a lot; South Korea has done a lot. But here's the bad part: if you test to this extent, you will do it." find more cases! "

"So I said to my people, please slow down the tests. You test and test them."

The suggestion that the president tell his aides to slow down the tests to keep infection statistics low was quickly condemned by Democrats and social media rally viewers.

A healthcare worker is conducting a patient test on May 22, 2020 at a new COVID-19 test center at Canal Street 1 in Lawrence, MA. Governor Charlie Baker spoke in the center.

John Tlumacki | Boston Globe | Getty Images

However, White House officials insisted that the president "spoke clearly in jest."

This was Trump's first rally since Senator Bernie Sanders left democratic primary school and Biden had left the party's presumed candidate. In Tulsa, Trump appeared to be testing several lines of attack against the former vice president, including that Biden is a "helpless puppet of the radical left."

"Joe Biden has surrendered to his party and the left-wing mob," Trump said, using a term he uses to bring together peaceful demonstrators, looters and progressive Congressmen. "He has no control. Does anyone honestly believe that he controls these maniacs? … He has absolutely no control."

Trump continued: "When the Democrats come to power, the rioters will take command and nobody will be safe. Nobody will be in control. Joe Biden is not the leader of his party. Joe Biden is a helpless puppet of the radical left . "

These attacks on Biden were clearly designed to anger Trump's followers in the same way that his attacks on Hillary Clinton caused the crowd to "Lock Her Up!" in 2016.

Again and again, Trump's mention of Biden's name failed to fuel the crowd in Tulsa.

This suggests a bigger problem that Trump faces when he launches a campaign against the former vice president: For a candidate like Trump who does better when voters are angry than when they aren't, Biden can with Trumps Do not cause enough trouble to followers really mobilize them.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden listens as he meets locals at Carlette & # 39; s Hideaway on June 17, 2020 in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, United States.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

This observation is supported by surveys that consistently show that the majority of Americans have a positive opinion of Biden, which was not the case for Clinton four years ago.

The latest Fox News 2020 race poll released last week found Biden's positive rating of 9 points net. 53% of those questioned said that they rate it positively, compared to 44% who rate it negatively.

However, the same poll found that Trump's net worth was minus 13 points, with 43% voicing a positive opinion of the president and 56% voicing an unfavorable opinion. Taken together, this means that Biden is 22 points ahead of Trump.

Some candidates may see this gap as a sign to focus more energy on expanding their support between different groups. Judging by the president's speech on Saturday, however, Trump has no plans to mitigate his complaint-driven, divisive campaign rhetoric to broaden his appeal.

At a time when much of the country is working to identify and combat systemic racism, Trump repeatedly boasted that he helped black Americans during his presidency.

And he accused Biden, who received overwhelming support from black voters, for supporting policies that hurt African Americans. "Virtually any policy that has harmed black Americans in the past half century has supported or enacted Joe Biden," Trump said during such a riff. "I've done more for the Black Community in four years than Joe Biden in 47 years."

Delano Frazir, a protester of the "Black Lives Matter", holds a sign in front of the National Guard in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Donald Trump will hold a rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

But in his almost two hours of speech on Saturday, which focused mainly on protests, race and law enforcement, Trump never once mentioned the name of George Floyd, the unarmed man from Black Minneapolis, whose death was committed by the police last month sparked a wave of unrest across the country.

Instead, the president kept coming back to the idea that people protesting police brutality against black Americans should be punished, arrested, or worse.

"We will defend privacy, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to hold and carry weapons," said the president. "And when you see these madmen all over the street, it's damn nice to have guns."

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