The Trump campaign canceled planned outdoor speeches by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at their comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night after protesters “interfered” with Trump supporters, campaign officials said.
“Sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “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.”
Media reports said fights occurred outside the BOK arena where Mr. Trump is holding his main rally indoors. But the president and vice president also initially had planned to speak to supporters outdoors who couldn’t get in to the 19,000-seat arena.
But areas outside the arena appeared to be sparsely populated about an hour before the president’s arrival.
It’s the president’s first campaign rally since March 2, when the coronavirus crisis brought a suspension of campaigning.
“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,” Mr. Murtaugh said.
The president and campaign officials had said earlier that more than 1 million people requested tickets for the rally.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale had boasted on Friday that the campaign built an auxiliary stage outdoors for the president to greet supporters who couldn’t get into the arena.
Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager for John McCain in 2008 and a harsh critic of Mr. Trump, asserted that the Trump campaign was duped by anti-Trump teenagers requesting tickets.
“My 16-year-old daughter and her friends in Park City, Utah, have hundreds of tickets,” Mr. Schmidt tweeted at Mr. Parscale minutes before the rally was set to begin. “You have been rolled by America’s teens. @realDonaldTrump
you have been failed by your team. You have been deserted by your faithful. No one likes to root for the losing team.”
“This will be the 1st time that POTUS speaks to BOTH crowds in person — inside & outside,” Mr. Parscale tweeted at the time.
Mr. Schmidt, a collaborator in the “Lincoln Project” of Republican operatives opposing the president, suggested the group was responsible for undermining the rally attendance.
“This is what happened tonight. I’m dead serious when I say this. The teens of America have struck a savage blow against @realDonaldTrump,” Mr. Schmidt said. “All across America teens ordered tickets to this event. The fools on the campaign bragged about a million tickets. lol. @ProjectLincoln.”
Vice President Mike Pence shrugged off the less-than-capacity attendance when he addressed the crowd before the president spoke.
“Four years ago, a movement was formed, and it looks like it’s doing just fine tonight,” Mr. Pence said to cheering supporters.