How Trump’s return to the campaign trail went from bad to worse

How Trump's return to the campaign trail went from bad to worse
Trump's return to campaign trail did not meet expectations. Source: CNN
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: By the time President Donald Trump was gliding in his helicopter toward Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, destined for what he’d once hoped would be a full boost return to campaign trail, things were already looking bad.

Cable news coverage earlier that day was showing not of massive lines forming outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, which Trump was disappointed to see, a person familiar with his response said. Instead of his campaign trail rally next day, the US TV stations were covering Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor Trump’s attorney general had attempted unsuccessfully to dismiss the night before his rally.

The President was informed hours later that six campaign staffers in Tulsa had tested positive for coronavirus ahead of his scheduled arrival. This was an unfortunate reminder of an ongoing pandemic Trump’s critics say he is ignoring. After initially dismissing the revelation, a source familiar with his reaction said Trump erupted when it was subsequently reported in the media — overtaking coverage of the rally itself.

Still, a determined Trump was intent on breathing new life into his staggering campaign. He took off for Tulsa, convinced large swaths of his supporters would be waiting for him there.

Things did not improve once Mr Trump took off to Tulsa. The President received a report that only about 25 people were assembled in the overflow space the campaign had reserved for a crowd Trump claimed five days earlier would top 40,000.

Disappointment in the making

The problem started from the very early stage the word “Tulsa” slipped from Trump’s mouth two Wednesdays ago.

Trump in Tulsa rally. Source: AP

First, there was controversy with the rally date, which the President changed begrudgingly after learning it coincided with Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Then there was the location of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mr Trump did not view the location as a problem even though plenty of others around him were wary of riling a city with a violent racist history in the middle of a national racial reckoning.

The notion of packing supporters into a crowded arena amid a high infection rate of coronavirus was always going to be an issue — but half-a-dozen staffers on the advance team testing positive for coronavirus was a wrinkle Trump had not anticipated when he insisted a rally be placed on his schedule.

Confined to the White House for months since the coronavirus lockdown began, Trump repeatedly asked that a rally be put on the calendar, even as public health officials warned against large gatherings.

You may read: Trump’s Tulsa rally fails to draw expected crowds amid virus fears