Aug 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump rules out socially distanced rallies: "You can't have empty seats"

The upper section is seen partially empty as President Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The upper section is partially empty as President Trump speaks during his June campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday he'd love to hold campaign rallies, but he "can't because of the covid. ... you can't have people sitting next to each other."

Why it matters: Trump is known for electrifying crowds at rallies and connecting with loyal supporters on a huge scale. But Trump stressed to Hewitt and in a separate radio interview earlier Tuesday that it wouldn't work while social distancing is required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "You can’t have empty seats," Trump told with Fox News Radio.

What he's saying: "You know, if I had five empty seats — for instance, they said, 'Would I do a rally, sir?' The reason I won’t do them [is] because, you can have one seat and then seven around that seat, sir, have to be empty," Trump told Fox News Radio.

"Oh, that'll look great. You know, you have one person and everything's empty around them. You can’t do that."

Of note: Trump's indoor campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June attracted a smaller-than-expected crowd of 6,200 in the 19,200-capacity BOK Center, according to the city's fire department. The Trump campaign insists 12,000 people were in attendance.

  • The Tulsa City-County Health Department said last month the rally and related protests "more than likely" contributed to the area's surge in coronavirus cases.
  • His outdoor rally that was due to take place last month with people wearing face masks encouraged in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was postponed because of a tropical storm.
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