The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa

The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa, by DNYUZ.

President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror.

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally that was almost entirely empty, despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event in Tulsa, Okla., and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events.

The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place. …

When he landed back at the White House and walked off Marine One, his tie hung untied around his neck. He waved to reporters, with a defeated expression on his face, holding a crumpled red campaign hat in one hand. …

Several White House officials called the rally a disaster, and an unforced error that heightened tensions among some of the president’s government advisers and his campaign aides. …

For days before the rally, Mr. Trump was giddy about his first arena outing since March 2, telling one interviewer after another how big it would be based on the numbers that Mr. Parscale had cited publicly. Mr. Parscale and others believed the event would demonstrate a real pent-up demand for Mr. Trump’s appearances — one the campaign has insisted exists. …

Now, some White House officials … conceded that many of the president’s older supporters had decided attending the rally was too risky amid coronavirus fears that Mr. Trump has repeatedly played down.