In his first campaign rally in more than 100 days, President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters in Oklahoma on Saturday, warning Americans against allowing the “radical left” to take control over the country through presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“The choice in 2020 is very simple,” Trump said at the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa Saturday evening, less than five months before the presidential election. “Do you want to bow before the left-wing mob, or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?” he asked the crowd.
“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control,” Trump said at the indoor rally.
In California on Friday, rioters toppled a statue of Father Junipero Serra at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Serra was a missionary from Spain who traveled to Mexico in the 1700s to share the Gospel. They also destroyed a statue of Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican who helped to defeat the Confederates and win the Civil War. Grant was later elected as the 18th president of the United States.
On Thursday night, rioters in Portland, Oregon, toppled a statue of George Washington, the nation's first president, and draped a U.S. flag on top of the head of the statue and set it on fire. After the statue crashed to the ground, another U.S. flag was set on fire and urinated on.
In response, the president said, “We’re not conforming, that’s why we’re here, actually. This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything we hold dear as Americans. They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose their new repressive regime in its place.”
“If the Democrats gain power, the rioters will be in charge, and nobody will be safe, and nobody will be in control,” said Trump, who has blamed the rioting on the “radical left,” anarchists and Antifa.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose residents have suffered the most in the wake of riots that followed the police-involved death of George Floyd, recently said the city would need well over $55 million in state and federal aid to rebuild more than 1,000 local businesses and new residential properties that were burned down. That number has since increased to over $500 million.
During the rally speech, Trump also took a jab at his opponent, saying, “Biden is a puppet of the radical left. And he’s not radical left. I don’t think he knows what he is anymore.”
He then assured that, if re-elected, he would deal with damages done to the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic. “And next year, if we don’t do anything stupid, you are going to have the greatest economic year you’ve ever had,” he said.
Trump’s campaign had said it had received over a million ticket requests for the rally. But according to The New York Times, just over 6,000 were in attendance.
“According to a spokesman for the Tulsa Fire Department on Sunday, the fire marshal counted 6,200 scanned tickets of attendees,” according to The New York Times. “That number would not include staff, media or those in box suites.”
Days before the rally, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum warned in an executive order that the state had received “... information from the Tulsa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that shows that individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other states are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally."
According to an earlier plan, Trump was to give a speech outside the venue after he finished the indoor rally. However, that plan was canceled at the last minute.
The Democratic National Committee claimed the rally was not successful. It tweeted, “With all those empty seats the Trump campaign should really consider social distancing.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist from New York, hailed the China-controlled Tik-Tok app for users' coordinated effort to "flood the Trump campaign w/fake ticket reservations" and not show up, leaving thousands of empty seats.
However, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in a tweet that the rally was not affected by Tik-Tok, but rather by media fear-mongering and hundreds of protesters outside the venue who blocked supporters from entering.
“Radical protestors fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally. They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering. Thanks to the 1,000s who made it anyway!” Parscale wrote.
Ahead of the Tulsa rally, Vice President Mike Pence attended a roundtable with black pastors and Oklahoma elected officials at the Tulsa Dream Center church.
At the 45-minute roundtable in north Tulsa, the group highlighted the need for access to better education and school choice, prison reform, health disparities in the African American community and Tulsa being an example for how the country could move forward.
While there, the pastors talked about the benefits of the administration's opportunity zone policy, and Pence spoke about the president’s executive order on policing. He told the pastors the administration would look for more “practical solutions.”
There were no protesters at the church.