President Donald Trump’s return to the election campaign was designed to show strength and enthusiasm in the critical last months before the elections that decide whether to remain in the White House.
Instead, his weekend rally in Oklahoma highlighted the growing vulnerabilities and crystallized a divisive re-election message that largely ignores a large number of voters, independent suburban women, and black people, who could play a crucial role in the Trump election. or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“There really is only one strategy for him, and that of fueling that anger and rage and trying to divide society and see if he can have tribal leadership to win here,” former Trump critic and adviser Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN. “Sources reliable. ”
The Republican president did not even offer a symbolic reference to national unity in comments that lasted more than an hour and 40 minutes until his self-described relaunch of the campaign, as the nation faced mounting coronavirus infections, the worst unemployment. of the Great Depression and radical civil unrest.
Trump also failed to mention George Floyd, the African-American man whose death at the hands of Minnesota police late last month sparked a national uprising of police brutality. But it added new fuel to the nation’s culture wars, defending Confederate statues and making racist references to the coronavirus, which originated in China and called “Kung flu.” He also said that Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee, “would like to make the government of our country like the country it comes from, Somalia.”
Trump won the presidency in 2016 with a similar red meat message intended primarily to energize conservatives and white working-class men. But less than four months before early voting begins in some states, there are signs that educated, independent voters, especially suburban women, have turned against him. Republican strategists increasingly believe that only a radical change in the economy can revive their reelection aspirations.
“It’s ugly,” said Republican cameraman Rick Tyler, a frequent critic of Trump. “There is literally nothing to run with. All he can say is that Biden is worse.”
But the day after Trump’s rally in Tulsa, the president’s message was almost an afterthought as aides tried to explain a smaller-than-expected crowd that left the president outraged.
The campaign had focused primarily on Tulsa.
Trump’s political team spent days proclaiming that more than 1 million people had applied for tickets. They also ignored health warnings from the White House coronavirus task force and Oklahoma officials, eager to host an event that would help them overcome civil rights protests and the coronavirus itself.
His first rally in 110 days was a provocative display of political force to help energize Trump’s spirit, test some attacks on Biden, and serve as a powerful symbol of the reopening of the Americans.
Instead, the city’s fire department reported that a crowd of just under 6,200 at the 19,000-seat BOK center and at least six staff members who helped organize the event tested positive for coronavirus. The vast majority of attendees, including Trump, were not wearing masks as recommended by health experts from the Trump administration.
After the demonstration, the president rebuked the attendees for participating. He smoked that he was led to believe he would see huge crowds in the deep red of Oklahoma, according to two White House and campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about private conversations.
There were no signs of an impending personnel change, but members of Trump’s inner circle angrily wondered how campaign manager Brad Parscale and other senior aides could achieve such large and insufficient professional growth, authorities said. .
“Donald Trump has resigned from leadership and it is not surprising that his supporters responded by abandoning him,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.