The Dems are using President Trump’s first political rally in months against him, charging that what the Trump campaign touts as a glorious moment for the president actually endangers his own supporters.
With the coronavirus pandemic takeing hold, President Trump stopped his signature rallies on March 20. He will hold his first rally since then in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20.
Trump’s return to his signature events has his supporters “literally testing his Fifth Avenue theory,” said T.J. Rooney, a Democratic lobbyist and former chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, recalling Trump’s 2016 comments about the loyalty of his supporters. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” President Trump said at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa.
Holding an arena rally, Rooney said, “just furthers the notion that Donald Trump is out of touch with the vast majority of the American people, including on getting together in large gatherings when you are told explicitly not to.”
Rooney also said that President Trump’s rallies tend to skew older. “So it’s like walking into a ring of fire to prove fealty. It’s a mind-bender for a lot of people.”
Trump “downplayed the virus, refused to prepare, and failed to get help to communities that needed it most,” DNC spokesperson and Deputy Director of Battleground State Communications John Weber said in an email. “Now he’s putting his own supporters in harm’s way to throw himself a rally.”
Rally-goers will be “suitably safe,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director, told Fox News. “There will be safety precautions,” he added.
The Trump campaign did not comment on what precautions these might be.
The sign-up page for tickets to the rally includes a disclaimer: Attendees “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” and agree not to hold the Trump campaign or venue liable should they get sick.
“I honestly think this is going to be the new norm,” a Republican aide said. “It’s basically what the NFL has said their plan is, and I’ve got to think that any big event that sells tickets will include this language from now on.”
Attending a rally or any large group event remains “a danger” and “risky,” said Anthony Fauci in an interview with ABC News on Friday. Fauci, an adviser to the president, said on Tuesday the pandemic was far from over: “Oh my goodness, where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.”
“My one recommendation is not to go to large spaces,” Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said in a local radio interview on Friday. “In the past week, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in case trends.” Tulsa began the latest phase of reopening on June 1.
Aides told the Washington Post that Trump is “not at all concerned” about the coronavirus safety implications of the rally.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office “was not involved in the selection of the date of the event,” a spokesperson told the Tulsa World.
Trump’s signature rallies are known to draw large crowds, even including some Democrats.
A boisterous Jan. 20, 2016, rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa featured Sarah Palin. “People are sick and tired and fed up, and yes, we’re angry,” Trump told the 9,000-strong crowd. Trump won the county by 36 points that November.