- Brad Parscale warned staffers not to “go anywhere near” Trump on the day of his Tulsa rally.
- ABC Correspondent Jon Karl reveals more details about the June 2020 rally in his upcoming book.
- Trump was furious and hung up on Parscale when he learned of the low turnout.
Brad Parscale, who worked as a campaign manager for former President Donald Trump, cautioned other senior staff that none of them “should go anywhere near the president” because of how angry he was over the low turnout at his June 2020 campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to a forthcoming book.
ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports new details of the backstory and fallout from Trump’s disastrous rally in his upcoming book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” due for release on November 16. An excerpt was published on Thursday in Vanity Fair.
After months of sliding poll numbers and worsening approval over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the straggling economy – despite almost-daily press briefings – Trump decided it was time to hit the road and resume his signature political rallies.
While Parscale and other staff pitched Trump on safer options like drive-in, outdoor, or even boat rallies, Trump insisted on an indoor venue that could hold tens of thousands of supporters despite the coronavirus pandemic, Karl writes. The team settled on the BOK Center in Tulsa because Oklahoma had a Trump-friendly Republican governor and relatively relaxed COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
But on the day of the rally itself, it became clear that the giant, unwieldy crowds Trump was used to and that Parscale had anticipated and boasted about on Twitter, simply weren’t showing up.
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When Trump called Parscale from Air Force One en route to the rally to ask how the turnout was, Parscale informed him it was “like Beirut in the eighties,” meaning empty and desolate, Karl wrote.
Parscale apologized to Trump, saying, “I’m sorry. I threw everything I could at it.” Trump hung up on him.
Parscale, who was worried that Trump would turn the plane around and head back to Washington, DC, then warned other staff that “none of you should go anywhere near the president today, including me,” according to Karl’s book.
The failed rally marked a major breaking point in Trump and Parscale’s rocky relationship, precipitating Parscale’s downfall from his position leading the campaign.
Trump’s anger with Parscale over the Tulsa rally and dissatisfaction with other aspects of his management led the former president to orchestrate a major campaign shake-up less than a month after the rally. He demoted Parscale to a senior advisor working on digital and data operations and promoted GOP operative Bill Stepien to campaign manager.
Parscale did not immediately respond to Insiders’ request for comment.