While this rally is being billed as the first Trump rally since the coronavirus shut everything down, this is a gross misstatement of the actual reality. Trump and his cronies believe that the worst of the virus is over. That’s why they have no problem with crowding everyone into an enclosed space to sing his praises. Hand sanitizer will be made available but that’s not going to do much.
We are well past the point where we believe that the touching of a contaminated surface is the primary mode of transmission for the virus. It seems pretty clear by now that close contact in enclosed areas is far more dangerous. Trump is clearly reeling from the news that Biden has seized the lead in the national polls.
His approval rating is sinking like a stone, too. He clearly views the rally as a chance to get his name back out there and let his supporters know that he is standing strong in the face of the virus. The ongoing protests are also playing a role in this decision. According to Trump campaign officials, no precautions will need to be taken.
Attendees are not required to wear masks because the state of Oklahoma is considered to be safe. The president does not want to speak to an empty building and he wants to be able to see everyone’s faces. In his mind, the presence of masks would do serious damage to the positive message that he is trying to send to his supporters.
President Trump will return to the campaign trail on June 19 with a rally in Tulsa, Okla., for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said Wednesday, as polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. establishing a significant national lead over Mr. Trump and the president’s approval ratings plummeting…
Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks, people familiar with the decision-making process said, adding that it would be unnecessary because the state is so far along in its reopening.
Mr. Trump has also made it clear he doesn’t want to speak in front of gatherings that look empty because of social distancing, or to look out on a sea of covered faces as he tries to project a positive message about the country returning to normal life and the economy roaring back, even as his top health advisers have warned the pandemic is far from over. “Oh my goodness,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.”
He wants them to know that everything is going to be okay. It’s a hard message to convey when you are speaking to an empty auditorium or a room full of people whose faces cannot be seen. Dr. Anthony Fauci is also cautioning against the idea that the worst of the virus is over. He believes that we are closer to the beginning of the crisis than the end. It is hard to argue with this point of view.
“Where we go we will make sure it is safe to hold a rally and what safety precautions we put in place. We will talk about when we know exactly what kind of venue that it is that we are talking about,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Fox during an interview on Wednesday. “But I would point out to the national media that I don’t remember them doing any social distancing shaming when they were doing all the coverage of the demonstrations that were going on.”
If there is any solace that can be taken, the Oklahoma coronavirus numbers are here to provide it. 21 states are experiencing an uptick in new cases and they are not one of them. The epidemic curve is now flattened there. That makes this state a better choice than Arizona or Texas, that much we can all agree on. Either of these choices would have been a much worse look for the White House.
There is one curious aspect of this decision. Oklahoma is a state that Trump does not have to fight for. No one doubts that it will remain red this fall. Does he really miss the cheering crowds this much? From where we are sitting, it is easy to speculate about his lack of willingness to consider the health risks here. If there is a spike in Oklahoma after the rally takes place, he is going to have a lot of questions to answer.
There's no way this is a coincidence. Same month as the massacre even. Announced the same day he declares military bases will continue to be named after confederate generals. https://t.co/40xgAD4QPk
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 10, 2020
The red state crowds obviously adore the president but there’s no reason to ask them to put their own health at risk. He should be thinking about other states where the outcome is more in doubt. For example, Florida is believed to have their epidemic under control, too. Wouldn’t they be a much better choice than Oklahoma?
The June 19 date is also going to draw the ire of many leftists. This is the date that is earmarked by many African-Americans as a day of celebration. It is known as Juneteenth and it is the day that the slaves were officially emancipated. The Trump campaign is going to claim that is all a coincidence but that will be a tough sell.
Meanwhile, Democrats will be waiting for the inevitable defense of the nation’s police forces. You know its coming and they are going to seize on it as quickly as possible. We will also be watching Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci closely. Will they let it rip when it comes time to criticize him or will they be tactful? Only time will tell.