In spite of days of apocalyptic media coverage and one rescheduling, President Donald Trump successfully held his first in-person rally since the coronavirus broke out in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday night — though the attendance was lighter than expected.
Ticket holders started lining up for the event days in advance, but there turned out to be plenty of room for everyone in the arena. Upper levels remained partially empty while lower levels were packed with Trump supporters who cheered him on throughout the night. Many more watched the rally from home.
The rally was expected to fill the more than 19,000-seat BOK Center, but a smaller-but-enthusiastic crowd of roughly 6,200 ticket holders were reported to have attended the event, according to the Tulsa Fire Department.
Days of heavily negative news coverage stoking fear of the coronavirus and the potential for violent protests may have kept some supporters from coming out. There were reports of fake ticket reservations as well, although the Trump campaign has pushed back on that.
Trump offers help to Seattle
During the rally, Trump blasted rioters and those behind Seattle’s so-called autonomous zone, and he had plenty of criticism for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden as well. Trump said that his administration would straighten out the Seattle “anarchist” problem “in an hour or less,” if Seattle wanted them to do it.
“I may be wrong, but it’s probably better for us to just watch that disaster,” he said.
Trump also touted the recovery occurring as coronavirus shutdowns are eased in most states, and warned that if Joe Biden gets elected, he will “double or quadruple” Americans’ taxes.
In a humorous re-telling of what happened during his recent West Point graduation speech, the president pushed back on media criticism of his health.
Trump said his health was fine, unlike Biden’s. Watch below:
AOC claims “gotcha”
Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and social media users claimed that teens on TikTok made it look like Trump’s Tulsa rally would be popular by requesting tickets as a prank when they didn’t intend to go to the rally.
The Trump campaign denied that fake ticket requests were counted, however, saying that they weed out such requests by verifying cell phone numbers. Instead, the campaign said that fear of violent protests kept families away from the event, which affected attendance. “Those are not [TikTok] kids. It was fear of violent protests,” one official said, according to The Hill. “This is obvious with the lack of families and children at the rally. We normally have thousands of families.”
Health officials also warned that attending the rally would be a risk because of the impossibility of social distancing and the fact that masks were not required for attendance. The campaign handed out masks and hand sanitizer to attendees as well as checking temperatures before entry. Six staffers tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the rally and were not present after hundreds were tested, the campaign said.