Trump campaign blames ‘radical’ protesters for lack of crowd at reelection rally

President Donald Trump arrives on stage to speak at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives on stage to speak at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Just fewer than 6,200 people attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Tulsa Fire Department said Sunday. Trump’s reelection campaign is disputing the number for it’s smaller-than-expected crowd size.

The department monitored the crowd at the Bank of Oklahoma Center, an arena that can hold just more than 19,000 people.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh disputed the fire department’s count Sunday, saying, “12,000 people went through the metal detectors so that number is way off.”

A public information officer told CNN that Saturday’s general admission count does not include suite holders, staff or media.

Trump and his allies had ginned up expectations for a massive crowd in the days leading up to the rally, with campaign officials telling CNN that more than 1 million people had registered to attend and one local official stating they expected 100,000 to show up near the arena.

The Trump campaign blamed “radical” protesters, even saying some were allegedly blocking metal detectors, for frightening some of the President’s supporters from attending Trump’s return to the campaign trail in Tulsa on Saturday.

Late Saturday night, a Secret Service spokesman said in a statement that an entrance to the Tulsa rally was temporarily closed and later reopened allowing people to enter.

“Earlier today, several individuals attempted to block an entrance to the site in Tulsa. For the safety of attendees, the public and event staff, the local police temporarily closed the gates at that entrance point. As soon as local law enforcement was able to provide a clear path, the entrance point was reopened and attendees were permitted to enter. For information on any arrests, contact the City of Tulsa Police Department.”

When pressed why the number of attendees was much less than predicted, Murtaugh on Saturday night blamed “radical protestors” who had attempted “to frighten off the President’s supporters.”

“President Trump is rallying in Tulsa with thousands of energetic supporters, a stark contrast to the sleepy campaign being run by Joe Biden from his basement in Delaware. Sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally,” he said. “Radical protesters, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out.”

A crowd of dozens of anti-Trump protesters were demonstrating at the location, and an equally large gathering of Trump supporters watched and sometimes verbally engaged them. The police, with helmets, shields and batons, ordered the crowd away from the entry, telling them that the gates would not reopen until they did. The crowd eventually retreated and access to the screening area resumed.

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Sunday that Trump "has abdicated leadership and it is no surprise that his supporters have responded by abandoning him.

“Donald Trump’s presidency was already in a tailspin because of his gross mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and his disgusting fomenting of hate and division in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic murder. Then it was exposed that he undermined American national security and begged the Chinese government to help him win a second term,” he said.