Gathering a smaller-than-expected crowd, President Donald Trump sought to reinvigorate his re-election campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, amid anti-racism protests in cities across the country and a still-strong coronavirus pandemic.
Even as the coronavirus price within the us is nearing 120,000, Trump declared on Saturday night that his response to the pandemic saved “hundreds of thousands” of lives.
Trump suggested that he wants the pace of COVID-19 testing within the US to hamper , blaming it for the rapid rise within the number of confirmed cases. His campaign, however, said the the president was “speaking in jest.”
The US president also tried to elucidate away the gang size, blaming it on the media for declaring “don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything” while insisting there have been protesters outside “doing bad things,” though the tiny crowds of prerally demonstrators were largely peaceful.
“We begin our campaign,” Trump thundered. “The silent majority is stronger than ever before.”Just moments before Trump’s speech, his son, Eric, also addressed the gang , comparing the anti-racism protesters across the US as “animals.”
Trump has come under attack for his responses to the coronavirus and to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died within the custody of Minneapolis police.
The US president has ignored criticism for his decision to carry his first rally since Texas Independence Day in Tulsa, the location of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans some 100 years ago.
“Oklahoma and America need four more years of President Donald Trump within the White House!” vice chairman Mike Pence told cheering supporters before Trump’s address at the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena, where many empty seats were visible.Trump campaign officials had said before the event that demand far outstripped the capacity of the venue.
But on Saturday night, almost half the BOK Center arena were empty, and therefore the campaign was forced to cancel an outside rally, after the expected overflow crowd didn’t show up.
Oklahoma has reported a surge in new COVID-19 infections in recent days, and therefore the state’s department of health has warned that rally attendees face an increased risk of catching the virus.
Hours before the rally, Trump’s campaign announced six members of its advance team had tested positive for COVID-19.The Republican president is trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former vice chairman Joe Biden, in polls before the November election.
Supporters are delighted to ascertain Trump back on the campaign trail, and people eager to attend far outstripped the amount of seats available, Trump campaign officials said.
The rally is predicted to be the most important indoor event the country has seen since restrictions to stop the coronavirus from spreading began in March.Trump’s own campaign issued an unusual disclaimer telling attendees they “assume all risks associated with exposure to COVID-19”.
The rally comes because the country remains within the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, with Oklahoma’s case tally reaching a replacement daily high on Wednesday, at 450 infections.
‘Back to business’
Trump has emphasised quickly reopening the country, claiming that there could also be “embers” of the pandemic which will be handled locally.In an interview with the news site Axios on Friday, Trump predicted a “wild evening” in Oklahoma.
He said the rally is about pushing a message of reopening the country.
“We need to revisit to business,” Trump said. “We need to revisit to living our lives. Can’t do that any more .”The president has also previously warned protesters that they’re going to face a harsh response in Tulsa.
The Trump campaign said masks and hand sanitiser are going to be provided at the rally. However, many attendees are expected to flout local and national guidelines that recommend people wear face coverings publicly .
“It’s a private choice, I won’t be wearing a mask,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday, adding that she is usually tested for the virus.
Al Jazeera’s Jay Gray, reporting from Tulsa before the rally, said that Trump’s supporters were “very excited” to ascertain the president.”When you ask those supporters, most will tell you that they do not decide to wear facemasks, that they’re not concerned about the virus.”
Trump also faces criticism for holding the rally in Tulsa – where many Black residents were massacred by white mobs in 1921 – following the killing of George Floyd last month.