The most cringe-inducing thing about Trump’s Saturday night rally didn’t happen in Tulsa, Okla., where it was held, but 700 miles away in Alabama.
But before I get to that, let’s set the stage. The Tulsa rally was supposed to signal to the country that the “Transition to Greatness” was fully underway. It was going to demonstrate to supporters that the Trump magic had never faded. More importantly, aides hoped it would lift the president out of his months-long case of the Mondays.
It failed on all counts. The campaign touted a million RSVPs for Trump’s big date with his admirers. Going by the fire marshal’s official tally of 6, 600 attendees, that means some 993, 400 opted for Netflix and the couch instead.
Trump’s performance was not as lackluster as the attendance, but it says something that in a nearly two-hour speech, the most memorable part was a 17-minute riff on walking down a ramp and being able to drink water manfully. Trump’s show-stopper was when he drank some H2O with one hand and flung the cup to the side like a Viking discarding a drained flask of mead. The crowd burst into chants of “Four More Years! ”
Beyond that, there were only what in a normal time would be considered gaffes. He called COVID-19 “Kung Flu” and recounted how he instructed his staff to slow down testing to spare him bad numbers. The campaign insists it was a joke, but when your best defense is that the president was joshing about a disease that has killed 120, 000 Americans and wrecked the economy, you’re not exactly in what the pros call a messaging sweet spot.
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