Due to the COVID19 pandemic that took the world by storm and caused the suspension of all public gathering, the election campaign that kicked off in March had to be put on hold. President Trump’s campaign resumed but not off to a great start. The rally in Tulsa was scheduled to hold on Friday 19th of June which is also the day that celebrates the abolition of slavery and slave trade in America (Juneteenth). Trump had no choice but to move the rally to Saturday “out of his respect for this Holiday” and due to the intense outcry from black lives matter protesters who are still quite angry about the killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis Police Department Officers. To top this off, President Trump gloated in a Thursday interview with Wall Street Journal that him fixing his campaign date for June 19th is one the reasons why Juneteenth was really popular.
President Trump implied that the low turn out to his Tulsa rally can be tied to “fake news” and how it has the potential to hinder attendance to his rally and give a false impression about him and his campaign. Also, he said, “we have some bad people outside, they were doing some very bad things”. This outrightly indicated that his supporters were restricted from gaining access to the campaign venue. He assured his supporters who were present at the rally that “those who are silently on board with Trump are stronger ever”.
Some notable topics which are strong points in President Trump’s campaign speech are how much he had saved from cutting expenses, managing the economy despite the COVID19 pandemic, appointment of the conservative judges, trade relations with China and restructuring the US military. All of these are points in which Trump has built his reelection campaign speech and continually delivered around the country until the pandemic took the world by storm and resulted in the suspension of public assembly. He specifically gave himself credit for the fact he was able to handle what he calls “the Chinese virus”. Also, he emphasized the fact that the country was close to having a critical oil price crisis but he saved the situation. He said, “he reached out to the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia and ensured that our energy got back to approximately $40 per barrel”.
President Trump placed emphasis on the Coronavirus and how he has taken an excellent approach to ensure that a considerable number of tests have been carried out. He also referred to the fact that public health officials needed to slow down the rate of testing because it clearly indicated that “when you carry out tests to that extent, you’re going to find more cases”. To sum this up, he imitated a public health official carrying out examination on a patient; “if you have the sniffles, it’s a case!” President Trump said.
After giving a detailed analysis of the above points, President Trump dived into the black lives matter protests which started after various cases of police officers killing unarmed black people. He categorized the protesters as “anarchists” and expressed his disappointment with the media for placing so much focus on his campaign and the health risks involved. He also claimed that the media is turning a blind eye to the health risks of the protests which have more risk than his campaigns. Although, numerous health workers have given insight into the fact that the virus spreads easily in crowded under the roof areas rather than outdoors.
President Trump employed numerous face-saving techniques due to the fact that his poll numbers kept dropping over the weeks, numerous negative press coverage and a host of many others. These techniques included spending time trying to explain his situation at West Point Military Academy where he found it difficult to come down from a ramp after delivering a graduation speech. He said in his defence that his dress shoes were slippery and the ramp felt like an ice skating rink. “I can’t fall with all the fake news watching” were the words he claimed to have uttered to a general who helped him descend the ramp.
He also addressed the fact that people are declaring him unfit to re-run as the President of the US. He made mention of the issue relating to his inability to successfully lift a bottle of water to his mouth whilst giving his speech. He said in his defence that prior to that moment, he had saluted quite a number of cadets and that activity had taken a toll on his arm. All of these explanations and effort to clear the air took about 20 minutes of his speech in total.
President Trump also emphasized that he did not have any ailment that might make him unfit for the position of President of the United States. He also specifically condemned reports and rumors that he was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. He claimed he was very healthy and fit to run for President but placed emphasis on the fact that his rival (Joe Biden) wasn’t healthy and fit enough to run for President. He used that opportunity to portray Joe Biden as “puppet”. “Joe Biden is a shameless hypocrite,” President Trump said. He’s a hypocrite because he eulogizes past senators who were major supporters of segregation in America. He concluded by saying “America should not take lectures on racial justice from Joe Biden- sleepy Joe”.
Originally, the campaign had received numerous warnings about the fact that having a rally during the pandemic was a bad idea. Having people enclosed in a room could increase the spread of the coronavirus and putting it on hold should be the best play. Despite all the warnings and health concerns, the plans to hold the rally on Saturday remained. Brad Parscale who is Trump’s campaign manager said in a tweet that over 1 million people had requested for tickets to attend the campaign in spite of the fact that those who indicated that they wanted to attend the campaign were urged to sign an electronic disclaimer. This was a form of acknowledging that they were at the risk of being infected with the coronavirus.
Before the scheduled campaign date, Trump’s members of staff were reportedly hoping for a successful campaign and that having a large crowd could really boost the morale of the President after experiencing decreasing poll numbers and numerous economic setbacks linked to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the crowd did not meet up to expectations. An outdoor stage was built for the President to make an appearance outside the BOK centre but the deserted BOK centre environment resulted in the cancellation of their plans to hold another rally outside.