- A “furious” President Donald Trump yelled at aides when he saw thousands of empty seats at his Tulsa, Oklahoma rally on Saturday, according to multiple sources.
- Campaign manager Brad Parscale had claimed almost a million people had registered their interest in the event, but only around 6,200 supporters showed up.
- Trump was still fuming on Air Force One on the way back, The Washington Post reported.
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President Trump yelled at aides backstage at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he realized how low the turnout was for his rally there on Saturday, according to The New York Times.
Around 6,200 supporters showed up to the 19,000-capacity venue, despite the confident predictions of Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, who claimed nearly a million people had registered interest in the event.
A person familiar with the discussions told NBC News that the president was already frustrated that news coverage of the upcoming rally had been dominated by the revelation that six members of his campaign team had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He had been forewarned on Air Force One about the disappointing audience numbers, according to the New York Times, but boiled over when he saw for himself how empty the venue looked.
Four people familiar with events told the paper they saw the president unload on aides when he saw the sparsely-filled seats from backstage. Multiple people close to the White House told NBC News that Trump was “furious.”
Aides told the Times that Trump’s mood rallied as he gave the two-hour address on stage, but the paper said he soon became deflated afterwards.
Following the event, officials with knowledge of the events told The Washington Post that Trump fumed on Air Force One on his way back to the White House.
Video footage of the president leaving Marine One at the White House with a dejected expression, clutching a MAGA cap and with his trademark red tie undone, has circulated widely since the event.
—The Hill (@thehill) June 21, 2020
Numerous reasons have been given for the low turnout. Expectations may have been inflated by TikTok users and K-pop fans registering interest in the event in large number, with no intention of attending.
There were also limited reports of protests, which at one point are said to have blocked entry to the venue for around 15 minutes. However, most people had already entered by that point , according to The Washington Post.
Campaign manager Brad Parscale released a statement blasting “leftists and online trolls” for falsely registering their interest, and claimed that “phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking.”
He instead blamed the low turnout on “a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protestors.”
Campaign advisers have since emphasized the event’s online reach, according to The Hill. Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the campaign, said the event attracted more than 4 million viewers over the internet.
Business Insider has approached the White House for comment but did not received an immediate reply.