President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign touted that 1 million people requested to attend a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Okla.
As Trump took the stage, he was met with plenty of empty seats, which stunned the president, according to The New York Times.
Four people familiar with what happened right before the rally told the newspaper that Trump was warned on Air Force One that crowds surrounding the Bank of Oklahoma Center were smaller than anticipated. Plans to address an overflow crowd outside were abandoned.
Before Trump appeared on stage, he yelled at his aides backstage as he looked out at the empty seats, the sources said.
Campaign advisers said Trump’s mood got better by the end of the rally. When he left the venue, his team said his mood was pretty subdued.
Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale organized the rally, but was not in attendance. It was Parscale who announced that 1 million people requested rally tickets. The arena holds about 19,000 seats. The Tulsa Fire Department estimated about 6,200 people attended the rally.
Korean pop music fans and social media TikTok users had claimed they were the ones who requested an abundance of tickets in order to throw off all the attendance numbers.
But in a statement to the newspaper, Parscale blamed the news media for the low turnout and claimed that internet trolls had nothing to do with the ticket requests. Other campaign officials told the newspaper that some of the sign-up requests for the rally were fraudulent.
“Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work,” Parscale said. “Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVP’d with a cellphone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool. The fact is that a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protesters, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally.”
Parscale then blamed local law enforcement in Tulsa for the low turnout.
During an interview, he told the newspaper that local police made it difficult for rallygoers to enter. He said he had thousands of emails of people who were denied entry into the arena.
Several of Trump’s advisers told The New York Times that the small crowd showed the president has not been able to change the minds of people fearful of the coronavirus.
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