Trump campaign blames protesters for poor rally turnout

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WASHINGTON, June 21, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – President Donald Trump’s
reelection campaign on Sunday blamed the disappointing crowd at his
Tulsa rally on protesters creating a hostile atmosphere and blocking
supporters from getting into the arena.

The White House had promised the much-hyped event — Trump’s first
rally in three months — would be flooded with up to 100,000 people,
but television images showed large sections of empty seating in the
19,000-capacity BOK Center.

A outdoor event for the overflow crowd was canceled because no one
showed up, despite the campaign hyping huge interest ahead of time,
with more than a million ticket requests.

Senior Trump campaign aide Mercedes Schlapp told “Fox News Sunday”
that attendees were unable to get into the BOK Center.

“There were factors involved, like they were concerned about the
protesters who were coming in. There were protesters who blocked the
(attendees),” Schlapp said.

“And so we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally.”

Schlapp went on to say there were families that “didn’t want to
bring — couldn’t bring — their children because of concerns of the
protesters.”

Schlapp was echoing an explanation first offered Saturday night by
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, who said
protesters were “even blocking access to the metal detectors, which
prevented people from entering.”

But reporters on the ground said they saw no problems for people
trying to get in.

Reports have been circulating in the last week that teen users of
social media platform TikTok were block-booking tickets in a bid to
embarrass the campaign.

Former Republican strategist and Trump critic Steve Schmidt said
teenagers nationwide had ordered tickets without intending to turn up
to ensure there would be empty seats.

He tweeted that his 16-year-old daughter and her friends had
requested “hundreds” of tickets, and received responses from numerous
parents saying their children had done the same thing.

– Mockery –

Trump has something of an obsession with big crowds, frequently
boasting about the size of his rallies, compared to those of Joe
Biden, his Democratic rival for November’s presidential election.

Schlapp mocked Biden for a recent event in which organizers followed
social distancing guidelines, saying the former vice president
couldn’t pull in crowds like Trump’s.

“I mean, Joe Biden has an event… with empty folded chairs and
painted circles on the floor. I’d love to see a Joe Biden rally. Let’s
bring it on, because there is no comparison,” she said.

Schlapp told Fox News over 5.3 million people had watched the rally
online, meaning “the reach was far and wide.”

Trump is trailing Biden by 9.5 points in an average of recent
nationwide polls curated by polling data aggregator RealClearPolitics.

Celebrity critics and Democratic politicians took to Twitter to mock
Trump over the disappointing attendance.

“The last time I saw a crowd this small was Trump’s Inauguration,”
tweeted Pennsylvania congressman Brendan Boyle.

“I think I sold that same place out in five minutes,” tweeted triple
Grammy Award-winning US singer Pink.

Adding to the sense that the rally had turned out to be something of
a misstep for Trump, six members of an advance team working in Tulsa
ahead of the rally tested positive for COVID-19 just hours before the
president took the stage.

Coronavirus cases have recently been skyrocketing in Oklahoma and
local health officials had asked the Trump campaign not to go ahead
with the rally, fearing it would become a “superspreader” event.

“Here’s my theory; don’t hurt the people that love you,” Pink added.

“I would never ask people to come to an arena right now. No good
person would.”