Donald Trump's Return from Disappointing Tulsa Rally Gets Meme'd as 'Walk of Shame'
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Trump was filmed returning to the White House from the event, which brought in a much smaller turnout than expected.
Trump, 74, had anticipated a packed audience at the Bank of Oklahoma Center, which seats a total of 19,000 guests. However, photos from the event show that the majority of seats in the upper decks of the arena remained empty.
The Tulsa Fire Department said less than 6,200 people attended Trump's campaign rally, according to The Hill.
Footage of the president following the rally showed him alone and with his tie undone, in what critics derided as a dejected "walk of shame."
Another detractor added, "Dear @MerriamWebster , I have found your 2020 pictorial selection for the word 'defeated.'"
A fourth wrote, "Disheveled, defeated, humiliated. His pathetic dog and pony show of racism, xenophobia, corruption and lies is getting old; he was undermined, outclassed and embarrassed by teenagers across the nation who coordinated mass purchases of tickets. Bad night for him and his cult!"
During Monday morning's episode of The View, co-host Meghan McCain (who has vocally criticized Trump before) commented on the president's "depressed" walk and the memes that followed.
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Ahead of Saturday's rally, the president tweeted that there had been close to one million requests for tickets.
Following the low attendance, however, some speculated it was due to “ticket hacking” by teenage TikTok users and K-Pop fans, who reportedly rallied behind calls to reserve tickets to the rally but then not go, according to The New York Times.
Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, denied that those RSVPs “impacted rally attendance," in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Sunday.
“Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool. These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking,” Parscale wrote, noting that as the rally was general admission, prior registration was not required to get a seat.
Parscale went on to claim that the lower turnout was due to “fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protestors, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire.” A Trump campaign official also told CNN that "we had legitimate 300k signups of Republicans who voted in the last four elections."
Although Trump’s campaign spoke critically of novel coronavirus concerns, the indoor event could have potentially exposed attendees to the virus — a fact the Trump campaign recognized when it made attendees sign a waiver preventing them from suing if they test positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, afterward.
Additionally, six Trump staffers who helped set up the rally had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the event, according to the Associated Press. Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director, said "quarantine procedures" were followed, and the sick employees would not attend.
Before entering, rally attendees reportedly had the option to have their temperatures checked and be given masks and hand sanitizer for the large indoor event. Inside the event, many did not appear to be wearing face masks despite coronavirus concerns.
Trump himself did not wear a face mask.
Speaking about coronavirus testing during the rally, the president said he urged his team to "slow down the testing," and added, "When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, 'slow the testing down, please.' They test and they test."
According to NBC, Trump was reportedly "furious" at the "underwhelming" crowd at his rally, per multiple people close to the White House. He was also annoyed at his aides for revealing that six staffers had tested positive, as the news dominated the media coverage ahead of his rally.
Some sources also claimed Trump "yelled" at aides backstage when he saw how low the turnout, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Citing a campaign source, CNN reported that the president's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, both senior aides, were "pissed" at his campaign manager. A Kushner spokesman denied this to the network.
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