Tulsa rally: Trump defends coronavirus response, militaristic action against protesters

President Donald Trump, addressing a less-than-full arena for his first political rally in months, criticized anti-racism protests and defended his handling of the coronavirus on Saturday in an effort to reinvigorate his re-election campaign.

Empty seats

The president, who revels in large crowds and had predicted his first rally in months would be epic, complained that the media had discouraged attendees from coming and cited bad behavior from protesters outside but did not specifically acknowledge the fact that many seats in the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena were empty.

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Trump's regime under fire

Trump sought to use the event to bring momentum back to his campaign after coming under fire for his responses to the coronavirus and to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.

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First rally since pandemic!

The smaller-than-expected crowd robbed him, at least for now, of the ability to highlight enthusiasm for his candidacy as an advantage over his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, who has eschewed large campaign events.

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Bloodiest outbreaks

Trump has brushed aside criticism for his decision to hold his first rally since March 2 in Tulsa, the site of the country's bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans some 100 years ago.

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Trump's militaristic response

The president, who has encouraged a militaristic response to the demonstrations nationwide while taking criticism for not showing more empathy for the plight of Black Americans, criticized some of the protests.

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'Mob trying to vandalize our history'

"The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments - our beautiful monuments - tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control. We're not conforming," Trump said.

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Handful of them wore masks

Hours before the rally, Trump's campaign announced six members of its advance team had tested positive for COVID-19. Only a handful of attendees wore masks inside the arena.

(Photograph:AFP)