- Aides of President Trump were concerned about the message that would be sent from the vast rows of empty seats at his rally on Saturday night in Tulsa.
- Employees texted friends and supporters living near the 19,000-seat arena in a belated attempt to find people who can help fill it, while another aide said they wanted Air Force One to simply turn around mid-flight. and go back to Washington.
- Insider interviewed eight Trump aides after the Oklahoma rally, and none had positive comments on the event, which has since then sparked a blame game and expectations that there will soon be a major shakeup of campaign staff.
- “They let the anti-Trumpers buy tickets and didn’t show up? That’s an old trick from the college campaign. It’s like a Roger Stone trick,” said a Republican close to the White House.
- Attention is now shifting to Arizona’s 2020 battlefield, where Trump will speak at a modest-sized evangelical megachurch, as well as another rally in progress for Alabama.
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Aides to President Donald Trump panicked Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as they looked row after row of empty blue seats, worried about the message it would send for the president’s reelection prospects.
Employees began sending frantic text messages to friends and followers living nearby in a belated attempt to fill all 19,000 seats in the indoor arena. An adviser said they would like Air Force One to simply turn around in mid-flight and take the president to the White House rather than subject him to the humiliation that would follow.
“Somebody had to call the president and tell him it wasn’t a big event,” said the person, acknowledging that it was too late to send the plane carrying Trump back to Washington, DC.
Finally, Trump went through his 2020 campaign’s grand rally back in Oklahoma after months in a COVID-19 lockdown, empty seats and all. None of the eight Trump advisers interviewed by Insider had anything positive to say about an event that has since sparked all sorts of soul searching and finger-pointing as the president’s campaign seeks to strike a balance against alleged Democratic nominee Joe. Biden with a little more. Four months to go before Election Day.
Jobs are at stake in the aftermath of Tulsa, with a big shake-up at the top of the Trump campaign that sounds increasingly likely as the president tries to reestablish his presence beyond Washington amid the fall of the poll numbers and a vague perspective on whether the pandemic will continue to overcome the lives of everyday Americans.
Supporters of the president said such a strong focus on the machinations for which campaign employees could be expelled, or if the president’s protests will become exclusive matters, ignores a more basic problem for Trump.
“The president is not going to win or lose based on how many people show up at the rallies, but his performance over the past four years,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist and managing director of Mercury Public Affairs.
Another test awaits in Arizona
The president’s visit Tuesday to a Students for Trump event in Phoenix is considered the next major test for his campaign. Attendees said that another failure could result in the big shake-up of the campaign that seems almost inevitable.
The rumors have focused mainly on the fate of Brad Parscale, the manager of the reelection campaign who started working for Trump years ago designing websites for the family business. Parscale’s shares have been falling for months, to the point that the president now casually refers to the person who leads his 2020 team as the “$ 10 million man,” according to a Trump adviser. That’s a reference to Parscale’s prolific earnings from the campaign.
Whether Parscale should get the boot is subject to considerable debate. This week, other staff members said Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, was just as likely to continue to “bring in” new staff to the campaign around Parscale, as he did last month at install Bill Stepien into a deputy. slot, instead of shooting Parscale directly.
Trump advisers also said that the blame should not rest solely with Parscale. Instead, they point to campaign staff who should have verified their internal data to determine if the million people who reportedly signed up to receive tickets to the Tulsa event matched their own voter files. That way, they could have quickly determined whether the people who said they were going to the Oklahoma Bank Center were actually Trump supporters, rather than the collection of TikTok Democrats, high school students, and Korean pop stars who would later claim to have withdrawn a deception elaborated in the president’s campaign.
“They let the anti-Trumpers buy tickets and didn’t show up? That’s an old trick from the college campaign. It’s like a Roger Stone trick,” said a Republican close to the White House.
Tulsa announces as the great comeback
The Trump rally in Tulsa was a costly production heralded as the president’s big comeback after spending three months away from the campaign. His advisers even described him as the perfect type of silver bullet that the President needed to recover himself and his campaign after months of bad polls and canceled events due to the pandemic.
“Not doing these protests is like keeping a horse in the barn,” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and the former mayor of New York, told Insider earlier this spring.
But Trump’s aides are now awash with explanations of what went wrong.
A Trump adviser was sympathetic to the problems of the arena-filling campaign in Oklahoma, suggesting the combination of the coronavirus, concerns about the violence of anti-Trump protesters, and the possibility of long walks in the summer heat of Tulsa that he kept supporters of the president at home.
A senior White House official interviewed this week called the event a “triumph for personal responsibility,” while stressing the challenges faced by the campaign to plan a major event with the coronavirus still a threat across the country.
Photos of Trump stepping out of his Marine Corps helicopter after returning to Washington last midnight Sunday, looking unusually defeated with his tie untied, have also sparked a debate among the President’s employees about how the chief really sees what It happened in Tulsa.
“He seemed disappointed,” said one of the president’s advisers. Another said that it would be “ridiculous” to read too much into the images of a 75-year-old man returning home after a long day of travel shortly after 1 a.m.
A Trump campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the consequences of the Tulsa rally.
But the president told reporters before leaving the White House for another event in Arizona on Tuesday that empty seats inside the Oklahoma arena said much less about enthusiasm for his campaign compared to cable television ratings that night for Fox News, which broadcast the event Live.
“The Tulsa protesters, despite all the horrible and sinister warnings you issued over a two-week period, the crowd was wonderful,” Trump said. “It was great, they were warriors. It was a great crowd.”
Try more modest places
All eyes have turned to whether Trump can pack a more modest-sized evangelical megachurch in Arizona, which has become a surprise state for Trump and Republicans.
Another impending indicator is the campaign’s position in the deep red state of Alabama, where another rally with the president is being prepared to support former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville as he performs in a Republican Senate primary against the former attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Any deficiencies are guaranteed to be highlighted.
The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group led by the conservatives, has already turned the president’s walk on Sunday morning from Marine One to the White House into a campaign ad that has been viewed 3.1 million times.
Trump’s advisers also remain concerned about the president’s position against Biden. The former Democratic vice president outbid Trump between $ 80 and $ 74 million in May.
He’s also consistently outpaced Trump, particularly in the critical states of Pennsylvania and Michigan. And Biden is also increasingly expanding the game map to states that were previously considered safe for a Republican presidential candidate, including Iowa, Missouri, and Georgia.