First, a note of caution: This story isn't just a CNN report. Jim Acosta, who is a resistance showboat, shares the byline. So beware. That said, specific details aside, multiple sources and several reports across various news outlets are all pointing in the same direction -- that the president and his team are angry about what happened in Tulsa (I outlined my explanatory factors behind the debacle yesterday), and finger-pointing is well underway. Based on this, Jared and Ivanka have their claws out for Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale:
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are "pissed" at campaign manager Brad Parscale over his predictions of a much larger crowd than the one that turned out at the Tulsa rally Saturday night, according to a Trump campaign source. "Jared and Ivanka are pissed at Brad over promising on crowd size," the source said. A spokesperson for Kushner later Sunday said it's "false" that they are upset with Parscale. And Parscale declined to comment for this story...A separate campaign source said Trump also "has every right to be pissed" over the turnout in Tulsa. "They gave adversaries and media a gift. It was overconfidence," the source said of Parscale and other campaign staffers close to the planning of the event...
Donors and friends of the President also have been fuming Sunday in the wake of Trump's poorly-attended rally, a person involved with the reelection effort told CNN. The person said blame from this camp has focused squarely on Parscale, of whom some had already been skeptical. But some donors and allies feel the rally debacle — in which the campaign made a decision to inflate expectations about enthusiasm for the rally rather than manage them at a reasonable level — threw into sharp relief the existing management problems on the campaign, the person said. "What happened last night is representative of a much bigger problem," the person noted.
The White House Press Secretary insists the president was energized and not angry, but does anyone actually believe that? His campaign team -- with whom he was reportedly already furious over bad polling numbers, which...aren't really their fault -- loudly told everyone who would listen that more than one million people had RSVP'd for the big event. And then 6,200 actually showed up. For a guy who's famously really, really into crowd sizes, it's hard to imagine Trump just taking that glaring failure in stride. This deep dive from Politico paints a stark picture, starting with detailing how Team Trump reached the reasonable but false conclusion that the bare minimum turnout would be 60,000, which was off by a factor of ten. Then things spiraled from there:
When they woke up Saturday morning, Trump advisers realized things were going downhill. Protesters were convening outside the arena. News emerged that a half-dozen advance staffers had tested positive for coronavirus, a revelation that angered the president ahead of his departure for Oklahoma and further amplified fears that the event could spread the disease. Hours before the rally was to get underway, it became clear to the president’s lieutenants that a debacle was underway and that there would be a patchwork of empty seats. Making matters worse for the campaign was its initial declaration that 1 million people had signed up to see Trump, a boast that was now destined to fall on its face.
The New York Times picks up the thread:
President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror. Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally that was almost entirely empty, despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event in Tulsa, Okla., and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events. The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place. Brad Parscale, the campaign manager who had put the event together, was not present.
Parscale is now apparently on the hot seat, with the campaign considering a move away from Trump's trademark mega-rallies, with persistent rumors of a potential campaign "shakeup" swirling. It looks like Parscale and his allies are nudging the press toward a different scapegoat, but who knows if that deflection will be effective. Ahem:
Poor attendance at his rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday night has President Trump increasingly frustrated with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and considering shaking up his reelection team, according to sources familiar with the issue. “The president has diminishing confidence in Brad,” a former adviser said of Parscale, who served as the campaign’s digital director in 2016...According to the former adviser, Trump, who is “getting madder by the day,” has recently made dismissive comments about Parscale’s experience.
The president has taken to using a dismissive nickname to describe Parscale, which isn't a great sign. Writing at HotAir, Allahpundit ponders whether the crowd fiasco helped detract attention from Trump's own erratic performance, which whiffed on some focused attack lines while giving critics a major opening by joking about coronavirus testing:
Peter Spiliakos writes, “Trump could have spent fifteen minutes explaining how a Democratic governor killed thousands of elderly people as the news media cheered. But he doesn’t care about that. So he spent that time on his West Point speech.” Trump fans should be furious that he was so unfocused for a rally which he had weeks to prepare for and which was destined to be covered even more heavily by the media than his rallies usually are. The speech should have been 90 percent attacks on Democrats, starting with Biden but extending to Cuomo, Pelosi, left-wing vandals who are tearing down statues, and so on. He was so disjointed that he ended up babbling about prison time for flag-burners at one point. He’s always treated his rallies as one part photo op and one part therapy session but Republicans have every right to demand something more focused at this stage of the game.
I realize that many Trump fans don't want to hear negative news, and refuse to believe the polls, but Republican officials are sounding the alarm -- and the president is responding with private tirades and chaotic, ineffective messaging. What's the strategy here? This quote from the Times story excerpted above suggests serious angst within the party:
“Outside advisers to the president said his team was fielding calls from nervous donors and Republican lawmakers, who were asking whether the poorly attended rally indicated problems that were too big too fix with just over four months until Election Day.” https://t.co/3KSSA5P8qi— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) June 21, 2020
On the brighter side for Team Trump, I'll leave you with this. Heavy interest in the event was not a mirage: