Trump holds controversial campaign rally in Tusla


President Trump waves to a crowd of supporters in Tulsa. The campaign rally was met with criticism amid the current COVID pandemic.

Emilia McLeod, Reporter

On Saturday, June 20, President Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city known for being extremely right-wing. With the presidential election inching closer and closer, he hoped to gain some leverage with the event. 


Even before the event occurred, it was met with extreme criticism. This came when Trump initially scheduled the rally on June 19, also known as the holiday “Juneteenth”, which celebrates the day those enslaved in the U.S. were emancipated. He was met with extreme backlash, which caused him to move the rally back one day.

Also before the event, plans circulated the internet for non-Trump supporters to reserve all the seats. The hope was that it would effectively make the arena empty when these people never show up. Upon the beginning of the rally, this plan seemed to work. According to Fox News, a spokesperson for the Tusla Fire Department shared with them that just under 6,200 scanned tickets were logged for the rally. Meanwhile, Trump, alongside his campaign, had boasted about 1 million ticket requests.

Amid this, the Trump 2020 Campaign Manager, Brad Parscale, denied the cause of the empty seats being the fake reservations. According to Breitbart News Network, Parscale told reporters that the media simply scared supporters away with COVID and the Black Lives Matter protests across the country, some of which turned violent.

“The fact is that a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protestors, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally,” Parscale wrote. “Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work.”

During the rally itself, Trump made many statements that were met with backlash. The most popular of which was regarding COVID-19 testing in the United States. According to CNN, Trump stated that the only reason COVID numbers seem to be jumping is because of their large amounts of testing, followed by the comment that he asked to stop doing so. 

“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,’” Trump shared.

When CNN reporter Jake Tapper mentioned the comment to the White House’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, he said that Trump was being “tongue in cheek”, or didn’t really mean the comment. Still, Trump was faced with much criticism. 

It’s uncertain whether the Tusla rally benefitted Trump’s presidential campaign or not. According to The Washington Post, their takeaway was that Trump’s pitch is the same as in 2016: “describing violence by the MS-13 gang, opposing abortion, casting Washington as out of touch and promising economic prosperity to America’s central regions and an even more conservative Supreme Court.” 

However, if there’s one thing that’s extremely certain, it’s that Saturday’s rally gave the 2020 candidate much publicity in these months before the election in November. It’s simply a matter of how such publicity translates to the voting booths.