Jun 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Chris Wallace grills Trump campaign adviser on Tulsa rally: "The arena was empty"

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace grilled Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp on why the president's Saturday rally in Tulsa saw lower-than-expected attendance, despite claims by Trump last week that 1 million people had requested tickets.

The big picture: As Wallace pointed out, the president frequently touts crowd sizes at his rallies as an indicator of enthusiasm and support. The Trump campaign planned for a massive crowd by setting up an outdoor overflow section for supporters who were shut out of the city's BOK Center, which has a total capacity of 19,200.

  • The attendance ended up clocking at just under 6,200, according to the Tulsa Fire Department, and the campaign canceled the outdoor portion of the event.
  • Schlapp blamed the underwhelming turnout on "protesters," claiming that supporters who wanted to attend were "worried about the protesters who were coming in." Tulsa World reported that police only arrested one protester for trespassing in a secure area.

The exchange:

SCHLAPP: "I'd love to see a Joe Biden rally. Let's bring it on, because there is no comparison. The phenomenon of the rally came because of President Trump, and people came out. Those people that knew that they wanted to be there physically present with the president. They joined us, and they're family oriented individuals who wanted to come out and be with us." *CROSSTALK*
WALLACE: "Mercedes, please don't filibuster. We're showing pictures here and it shows big, empty areas. Frankly, it makes you guys look silly when you deny the reality of what happened."

What they're saying: Schlapp continued to deflect from the crowd size and attack Biden, calling him a "failed politician" and stating that Trump used the rally to "talk about the failed record of Joe Biden."

  • "Joe Biden has been a career politician that has done nothing but supported failed institutions."
  • "There were empty seats there," Wallace said. "You're shifting to a campaign speech which has nothing to do with the attendance of the rally."

Go deeper: Tulsa fire department says just under 6,200 people attended Trump rally

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