Oh, they just couldn’t wait to run to press with this one.
“President Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election campaign sputtered badly on Saturday night as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass rally in months and found a far smaller crowd than his aides had promised him,” giggled The New York Times. “The weakness of Mr. Trump’s drawing power and political skills, in a state that voted for him overwhelmingly and in a format that he favors, raised new questions about his electoral prospects.”
“While President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday was pitched as an over-subscribed event,” sneered Forbes, “with Trump campaign staffers touting ticket registrations over a million, the final turnout came to a fraction of the venue’s overall capacity, confirming reports of low turnout that dogged what was meant to be Trump’s triumphant return to the campaign trail.”
“When the President landed in Tulsa at 5:51 p.m. local time, the crowds his aides had promised him had failed to materialize,” CNN gleefully reported. “While he was in the air, the campaign had canceled the outside appearance given the apparent lack of enthusiasm. Once viewed inside the White House and Trump’s campaign as a reset button for a presidency beset by crises and self-inflicted wounds, Saturday evening’s campaign rally in Tulsa instead became plagued with pitfalls, a disappointing microcosm of the blindspots, denial and wishful thinking that have come to guide the President as he enters one of the most precarious moments of his first term.”
Wow. Sounds pretty bad.
Of course, these articles didn’t spend much time focusing on the TikTok prank that apparently set expectations for crowd attendance far beyond what it was in reality. They barely mentioned that the rally’s date was changed at the last minute to avoid conflicting with “Juneteenth.” They didn’t take into consideration the coronavirus pandemic, which undoubtedly kept people home. No, we’re supposed to take Tulsa’s attendance as a damning sign of Trump’s declining popularity.
Well, the media may want to press pause on the gloating and take a closer look at this (New York Times) report from a Joe Biden “rally” from last week:
There was no soundtrack of carefully selected, inoffensive pop music blasting in the background. No reporters fighting over power outlets and positioning. No rope line for the candidate to walk, shaking hands and snapping selfies.
Oh, and hardly any voters.
About 20 handpicked local officials, small-business owners and reporters sat in folding chairs, each placed within a large white circle taped on the floor of a recreation center to maintain — or at least encourage — social distancing. A few attendees whispered to each other as photographers quietly chatted. You could hear the clack of typing echoing across the room. The silence was striking.
Then, Mr. Biden appeared. He arrived with such little fanfare that I didn’t even notice him enter the room.
You want to talk about a campaign dying on the vine? Look no further than Joe Biden’s largely-confined-to-the-basement quest for the presidency. When Biden can draw even a third of Trump’s Tulsa crowd, we’ll start taking the peanut gallery seriously. Until then, they may want to worry less about what Trump is doing and more about how their own candidate inspires about as much enthusiasm as a boil weevil.