A report from the Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Robert Costa suggested that Donald Trump likely failed in his attempt to halt his slide in the polls with his "defiant" speech at a poorly-attended rally in Tulsa on Saturday night.
With critics both mocking the turnout and calling the overly-hyped event a "disaster," the reporters note that the president went before the crowd trying to shore up his image as the commander in chief at a time when his re-election prospects are increasingly looking in doubt.
"He threatened violence against protesters, endangered his supporters by flouting health recommendations and endured a 110-day, coronavirus-induced dry spell, but when President Trump finally stepped back onto his rally stage Saturday night in Tulsa, he saw a sea of blue seats," their report began. "The thousands of empty arena chairs, after his campaign had hyped overflow crowds and ticket requests totaling more than 1 million, symbolized the beleaguered state of Trump’s presidency and of his quest to win a second term."
While Trump hit all of his usual marks, with racist appeals to his base and attacking the media, the report notes that Trump's old magic is not working anymore.
"If Trump had settled on a new message for this relaunch phase of his campaign, it was difficult to discern. His 101-minute address was rambling and discordant, ranging from some of his favorite hits, such as attacks on CNN and the 'fake news' to dark imagery about 'Joe Biden’s America' as overrun by rioters and looters to a lengthy monologue explaining his slow and unsteady walk down a ramp and two-handed sip of water last weekend at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point," they reported.
Calling the speech at BOK Center in Tulsa an "act of defiance," the journalists added, "Trump’s performance masked a presidency in peril. This past week alone, the Supreme Court twice stymied Trump’s administration, including on one of its signature immigration policies. His former national security adviser alleged that he sought help with his reelection campaign from Chinese President Xi Jinping. His firing of a U.S. attorney who had been investigating his associates drew loud condemnations."
According to one anonymous source in the White House, the rally was also designed to give the president a chance to get out and in front of raucous crowds ("The president is going stir-crazy”) but may have instead blown up in his face as Republicans weigh abandoning the president.
“It’s a terrible situation,” explained a Republican strategist who noted GOP lawmakers are in no hurry to have their picture taken with Trump. “If you’re onstage in a MAGA hat smiling wide, the Democrats will make it an ad in a second.”
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