Trump’s Tulsa rally: He says he wanted to 'slow the testing down' on COVID-19 and other takeaways
During the rally, President Trump touted his success during the pandemic, saying he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Wochit
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday after days of speculation about the impact the event would have on spreading the coronavirus and how large the crowd would be.
The president used the opportunity to brag about his coronavirus response while downplaying its threat, slam the media and some of his Democratic rivals, as well as to defend confederate statues.
Here are some of the takeaways from Trump's rally:
Trump said he wanted to 'slow the testing down'
Trump boasted of his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic and again blamed China for spreading the virus.
Coronavirus cases have spiked in several states around the country, including in Oklahoma, the site of the rally. Local health officials had called for the rally to be postponed out of concern about the spread of the virus.
"COVID. To be specific, COVID-19. That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus," he said. "We – I – did a phenomenal job with it."
Trump said he told his administration "slow the testing down, please," reiterating his argument that higher test numbers led to higher case counts.
In fact, in many states seeing spikes in cases, the increase in infections is outpacing the number of new tests. As the country reopens, medical experts say one of the keys to curbing the spread of COVID-19 is widespread testing so people who have the disease can self-quarantine to avoid infecting others at workplaces, schools and other public places. At the White House, for example, aides are tested daily.
The president also suggested, without evidence, that COVID-19 is being over-reported. Experts, including members of Trump's own coronavirus task force, have said they believe COVID-19 cases are being under-reported.
Trump imitated a doctor talking about a 10-year-old with “sniffles” who would conclude “that’s a case!”
The president said the governor of New Jersey told him only one person under age 18 died, which the president said shows that young people have a “great immune system.”
“Let’s open the schools, please!" he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and a member of the president's coronaivrus task force, said earlier this week while more testing does result in more cases, the surge in some states "cannot be explained by increased testing."
Crowd smaller than other rallies; majority did not wear mask
Trump's rally boasted a smaller crowd than his usual campaign events, with much of the upper sections of the 19,000-seat BOK Center stadium empty.
An event outside was canceled and broken down by the Secret Service before the president started speaking inside because of low attendance.
Before the event, the Trump campaign had boasted 1 million tickets were requested, and Trump predicted there would not be an empty seat.
More: campaign blamed the low turnout for the rally, as well as the scratched event, on "radical protesters" as well as members of the media, who they claimed "attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters."
Journalists on the ground have disputed seeing large numbers of people turned away because of rowdy protesters.
Trump, who often kicks off his campaign rallies by crowing about the size of the crowd, was forced to use his high-stakes rally to explain why turnout was less than expected.
Echoing a line from his campaign manager, Trump blamed the smaller-than-expected crowds on media coverage leading up to the event and blamed protesters for his decision to not deliver expected remarks at the scheduled outdoor overflow event.
More: Kellyanne Conway, in March called reports of a White House official referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu" as “highly offensive.”
COVID-19 deaths neared 120,000 Saturday in the U.S.
'Demolish our heritage': Trump defends confederate statues
Trump's rally, just a day after Juneteenth and in a city with the site of one of the worst race massacres in U.S. history, defended confederate monuments around the country.
Trump claimed the left and protesters desired only "to demolish our heritage" as demonstrators have been tearing down confederate statues during weeks of protests over racial injustice.
Protesters continue to target historical symbols of the Confederacy. Late Friday, protesters in Washington, D.C., and in Raleigh, North Carolina, toppled statues.
The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man whose neck was pinned under the knee of a white police officer for nearly nine minutes in May.
Trump barely spoke about race and did not mention Floyd.
Trump targets Democratic politicians and critics
Trump used his rally to hit back at some of his Democratic critics, including Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
The president swiped at Bowser for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Washington and Ocasio-Cortez for her environmental views.
Bowser responded, tweeting that there's "a lot of empty room" in Trump's head, "just like tonight's half empty Tulsa arena."
Trump called Omar a "hate-filled America-bashing socialist" whose goal is to make America "just like the country from which she came, Somalia. No government, no police, no safety, no nothing."
Omar, a representative from Minnesota, fled Somalia as a refugee and has been a citizen since she was 17. Her father died from COVID-19 a few days ago.