President Trump’s reelection campaign got off to a rocky start Saturday, with a rally in Tulsa, Okla., that drew a much smaller crowd than his campaign had planned for.
“We begin, we begin our campaign!” Trump said exuberantly as he took the stage at Bank of Oklahoma Center before a crowd that fell far short of filling the 19,000-seat arena.
Trump quickly blamed the “fake news” for discouraging turnout and said “we had some very bad people outside, they were doing some very bad things,” intimating that his supporters had been prevented from entering the arena.
The president then assured those in attendance that “the silent majority is stronger than ever before.”
Settling into a version of the stump speech that he had delivered many times until he suspended campaigns in March as the coronavirus pandemic swept across America, Trump hit all of his familiar themes: his trade deals with China, rebuilding the military, his appointment of hundreds of conservative judges, and told a long anecdote about how much money he saved on the purchase of a new airplane to replace Air Force One.
Missing from his repertoire was his baiting the camera crews to pan the arena and show the size and enthusiasm of the crowd and thanking the fire marshals for letting him exceed the nominal capacity of the auditorium.
Trump mentioned what he termed “the Chinese virus” nearly 10 minutes into his remarks and gave himself high marks for his response to it, emphasizing the steps he took to shore up the price of oil. “It looked like we were in big trouble, and I got it together,” Trump said, adding that he had called the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia and “got our energy back to almost $40 a barrel.”
Trump told his crowd that “I have done a phenomenal job” with the pandemic, pointing to the number of COVID-19 tests administered in the U.S. to date. But he also complained that more testing had revealed more cases of the disease caused by coronavirus.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test,” Trump said.
He then imitated a public health official examining a patient, “If you have the sniffles, it’s a case!”