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Trump's Tulsa rally was a flop

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CNN's Brian Stelter talks about the last-minute cancellation of planned remarks by President Donald Trump before an overflow crowd prior to a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Posted: Jun 21, 2020 9:10 PM
Updated: Jun 21, 2020 9:10 PM

President Donald Trump couldn't wait. His presidency is nosediving, with bad news erupting all around him. His answer was Tulsa, a campaign rally in blood-red Oklahoma, the state he won by a crushing 36 points in 2016.

But Tulsa did not deliver. The event that was supposed to trumpet his return to greatness -- and the country's return to normalcy -- instead brought embarrassing scenes of empty bleachers, a dismantled stage and a familiar speech unsuccessfully trying to reignite public fears.

After raising expectations with claims that a million people had requested tickets for his first campaign rally in more than three months, the vacant seats were the biggest story of the night. It was a bad omen for November, and Trump undoubtedly saw it with his own eyes as he scanned a sea of blue seats devoid of supporters on the top level of the arena that he and his campaign had said would be bursting beyond capacity; so full, they expected, that the campaign planned for a second outdoor speech to bring an additional 40,000 people unable to find a seat indoors.

Instead, the outdoor speech was cancelled, the stage dismantled. The campaign absurdly tried to explain by claiming that protesters blocked the entrances. But every reporter there confirmed that was not true.

Maybe Tulsans weren't dying to see Trump during a pandemic, although many thousands did come, possibly risking their lives to follow a president who showed he doesn't value the health of his supporters enough to follow the advice of health experts. They had urged him to postpone the rally. Oklahoma has seen rising numbers of coronavirus diagnoses in the runup to the meeting, and an indoor gathering of thousands -- most of them without face masks -- may be the best possible way to spread the contagion.

The speech covered mostly familiar terrain, old promises, boring attacks and outrageous statements. The theatrical incitement and divisiveness genuinely energized the crowds when Trump first took to the hustings four years ago. Now it's mostly more of the same. We're used to him now. We've heard it all before.

Still, as with so much that is happening in the world today, we have to remind ourselves how abnormal it all is, to hear a president of the United States threaten violence against Americans and traffic in prejudice.

Speaking of recent anti-racism protests, he warned, "our people are not nearly as violent. But if they ever were, it would be a terrible, terrible day for the other side." It's unclear who exactly "the other side" is. The speech was filled with the usual racist innuendo. He called Covid-19 the racist term "Kung-flu," dog whistled, "they want to demolish our heritage," and spoke of the brutality of gangs, claiming that if Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrats are elected, "our country will be destroyed."

Does anyone really believe that?

The crowds cheered when Trump attacked CNN or China, but it appeared to me that his effort to make them hate Biden didn't elicit quite so much excitement.

The speech was typically self-centered, with a bizarre more than ten-minute long riff on his ultra-slow descent from the West Point ramp, and absolutely no words of compassion for the nearly 120,000 people in this country who have died during the pandemic.

Instead, Trump repeated the lie that coronavirus numbers are climbing because there's more testing, shockingly revealing that, "I said to my people, slow the testing down, please." Experts say testing saves lives. Slowing the testing leads to more deaths. The White House predictably claimed he was joking.

If this was the great comeback, the relaunch of Trump's campaign for re-election, it was a flop, and Trump most likely knows it. Don't be surprised if heads roll in the campaign.

Instead of a showcase for the great enthusiasm Trump is supposed to engender in his supporters, it left quite a different impression.

Not only did we not see the massive crowds we were promised, we saw something else, something deeply disturbing. We saw a president willing to risk the lives of his supporters in order to garner political support. Six Trump staffers organizing the event had tested positive.

Every image of the crowd of tightly-packed Oklahomans holding Trump 2020 signs made one wonder how many among them was breathing in the coronavirus. How many will contract Covid-19; how many will take it home to their relatives, to their neighbors, friends and co-workers? How many will die because of this Trump rally?

Instead of a triumphant relaunch, we saw a president threaten anti-racism protesters, and that started even before the rally.

Instead of a president confident in his achievements, we saw a man in the midst of a string of defeats. We saw a man unable to recognize the depths of the crisis faced by his country.

Trump is in freefall, presiding over the worst public health crisis in a century, the highest unemployment rate since World War II, the biggest sustained protests in decades. He is losing in the Supreme Court; his poll numbers are nosediving. And in the 24 hours before this rally, his administration launched a shambolic effort to push out a prosecutor who is investigating criminal cases targeting people close to Trump. It was a spectacularly incompetent effort, and one that succeeded in making us wonder why Trump wanted to get rid of the prosecutor; one more wound on a presidency that is bleeding its way to the finish line.

If Tulsa was supposed to salve Trump's wounds and send him on his way to victory, it accomplished nothing of the sort. You cannot count Trump out, but he is certainly down.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
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Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
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Pulaski831
Rush804
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Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 100848

Reported Deaths: 3669
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18317524
Cuyahoga13514499
Hamilton9643255
Lucas5348323
Montgomery436294
Summit3555222
Butler292963
Marion292545
Mahoning2554255
Pickaway238742
Stark1827139
Warren178939
Lorain177078
Columbiana165860
Trumbull1524106
Fairfield138732
Delaware130119
Licking128149
Clark114614
Lake111438
Wood104358
Clermont93311
Medina92335
Miami83938
Tuscarawas78214
Portage75861
Allen74044
Greene69012
Belmont62126
Mercer61213
Richland60412
Erie57527
Ashtabula56946
Geauga55644
Wayne53958
Ross4844
Huron3965
Darke39529
Ottawa38626
Hancock3783
Sandusky37716
Madison37410
Athens3571
Holmes3286
Lawrence2830
Auglaize2546
Union2511
Muskingum2361
Jefferson2292
Scioto2261
Seneca2143
Knox2057
Putnam20517
Preble2032
Washington20322
Shelby1944
Coshocton1936
Champaign1762
Crawford1745
Morrow1702
Hardin16512
Clinton1646
Highland1581
Logan1552
Fulton1481
Wyandot1468
Ashland1443
Defiance1444
Williams1353
Perry1303
Brown1292
Hocking1189
Guernsey1177
Henry1172
Fayette1130
Carroll1115
Monroe9318
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding690
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs400
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan260
Noble160
Unassigned00
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