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Trump Rally Fails to Fill Tulsa Stadium

President blamed media, protesters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2020 12:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump's rally in Oklahoma Saturday night is believed to be the biggest indoor event in the US since coronavirus restrictions began—but it wasn't quite as big as expected. There were thousands of empty seats at Tulsa's 19,000-capacity BOK Center, though the campaign said it had received more than a million ticket requests, the Guardian reports. Trump, who spoke for almost two hours, described COVID-19 testing as a "double-edged sword." "When you do testing to that extent ... you're going to find more cases," he said. "So I said to my people, slow the testing down please." A White House official later said the president, who was holding his first rally in three months, was "obviously kidding." More:

  • Trump blamed protesters for turnout. Health officials warned that the rally would cause a surge in coronavirus infections—and six staff members who helped set the rally up tested positive earlier in the day—but Trump appeared to blame the turnout on protesters and the media. There were "very bad people outside, they're doing bad things," he said in his opening remarks. There were "some volatile scenes outside the venue but no serious trouble," reports the BBC. Plans for Trump to address an outside "overflow area" were dropped. AP reporters said they did not see protesters block entry to the area where the rally was being held.

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  • Familiar targets. Politico reports that Trump attacked plenty of "familiar targets" during his speech, including Joe Biden, the media, and the Washington, DC, "swamp." He referred to the coronavirus as the "China Virus" and the "Kung Flu." He also slammed the "unhinged left wing mob" he said was "desecrating our monuments, our beautiful monuments." "They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose their new oppressive regime in its place," he said. Trump also called for the burning of the US flag to be made illegal.
  • AOC: Trump was tricked by teens. Rep, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—another Trump target—poked fun at the Trump campaign over the disappointing turnout, Fox reports. "You just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID," she tweeted after campaign chief Brad Parscale said "radical protesters fueled by a week of apocalyptic coverage" stopped Trump supporters entering the venue.
  • He spoke about West Point for 14 minutes. The Washington Post reports that Trump spent more than 14 minutes—around an eighth of his speech—discussing his speech at West Point last weekend and complaining about how the media covered his slow walk down a ramp and his use of two hands to drink a glass of water. After he demonstrated that he could drink a glass of water with one hand, the crowd cheered and chanted "Four more years!"
  • Fact-checkers were busy. CNN fact-checks numerous statements from Trump's speech, including his claim that Biden apologized for criticizing his China travel restrictions.
  • "Brief skirmishes." Police say there were "brief skirmishes" and pepper balls were fired after Trump supporters leaving the rally clashed with protesters, but things remained largely peaceful, the Tulsa World reports.
  • Quake felt after rally. The AP reports that a 4.2 earthquake, the state's strongest in more than two years, hit northern Oklahoma around 10:15pm, after the rally concluded, and was felt in Tulsa.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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