President Trump blamed a less-than-full arena at his rally in Oklahoma on Saturday on a curfew in Tulsa and apocalyptic press in the days leading up to the event, according to a new interview that aired on Tuesday.
“They called a curfew, so people that were in line had to leave,” Mr. Trump told “Fox & Friends.” “You had people sitting, waiting for four or five days in advance, and they called a curfew, and they had to leave.”
“Number two, you had nothing but horrible press for a week and a half, two weeks leading up to it,” Mr. Trump said referring to the coronavirus. “I heard two weeks of nothing, but ‘you are going to die if you go.’ ‘You are going to die; you’ll never live again; you’ll never breathe again if you walk into that very beautiful arena.’ “
Local officials estimated that Mr. Trump drew a crowd of about 6,200 to the roughly 19,000-capacity arena, though the Trump campaign estimated it was more like 12,000.
“It’s the only time that I had a vacant seat since I came down the escalator with the first lady,” the president said, referring to his campaign launch in 2015.
But during the interview, Mr. Trump also held up a printed-out copy of a Fox News story saying that the rally gave the network the largest Saturday night audience in its history.
“Online, it was even bigger than this,” he said. “Now, nobody’s going to write that.”
The president was reportedly furious about the turnout after he and the campaign had trumpeted that hundreds of thousands of people had signed up.
But White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Mr. Trump was pleased with how the rally turned out.
It was his first large-scale campaign-style rally since March 2, when the coronavirus pandemic put traditional political events on hold.