Local officials and media in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are asking President Donald Trump to reconsider plans to hold his first re-election campaign rally there since the coronavirus pandemic forced him to suspend traveling.
The editorial board for Tulsa World published an opinion piece on Monday, decrying Trump’s planned visit, calling it “the wrong time” to hold a rally there.
“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city,” the board wrote, adding that Tulsa “is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic.”
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“The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea,” the board added.
Tulsa World’s editorial board also noted that Trump will be rallying in a city “that 99 years ago was the site of a bloody race massacre” during a time when uprisings are happening across the country in response to the police killing of George Floyd. Trump’s visit to Tulsa may fan the flames of civil unrest, the board warned, as many may view the venue location and date, so close to the holiday of Juneteenth, as an insensitive and inflammatory choice.
“When the president of the United States visits your city, it should be exciting. We think a Trump visit will be, but for a lot of the wrong reasons, and we can’t welcome it,” the board concluded.
Some officials in the city have expressed qualms over Trump visiting, including Bruce Dart, the director of Tulsa’s City-County Health Department.
“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dart told Tulsa World. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”
There does not appear to be any strategic value for Trump to go to Tulsa — he’s ahead in the polls in Oklahoma, which means he will not further his re-election chances when it comes to the presidential race against Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has previously claimed that Trump’s visit to Tulsa would demonstrate how Oklahoma has been a “national example in responsibly and safely reopening” during the pandemic.
But it’s precisely because of the coronavirus that some are speaking out against the president visiting the city this week.
The virus has not diminished in the city in recent days — in fact, Tulsa has seen a 7-day rolling average of new cases of coronavirus double over the past week, from 24.9 new cases per day on June 7, to 51.4 new cases per day as of June 12.
In spite of the Trump administration’s rosy projections for COVID-19 recovery, the president’s campaign seems to acknowledge that coronavirus remains a real problem. Any person attending his rally will have to sign a waiver promising not to hold Trump or the campaign accountable if they contract the disease.
That waiver asks all who participate to “assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” before they attend on Saturday.