Donald Trump’s decision to pack thousands of people into an arena for his first campaign rally in three months, intended to reinvigorate both his re-election effort and the candidate himself, has instead kept the president on the defensive.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally set for Saturday was supposed to signal that America is well on its way back to normal after weathering both the coronavirus outbreak and nationwide protests against police brutality. And the event was just as much about lifting the president’s own morale, following broad criticism of his response to the virus crisis and the unrest, according to officials familiar with the campaign.
But instead, the rally has led to new scrutiny of the president’s handling of both the pandemic and the nation’s divisive racial inequities. Health officials in Oklahoma have recommended delaying the event, expected to draw at least 100,000 people to the state’s second-largest city, as cases of COVID-19 rise.
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