Brad Parscale warned Trump that the venue for his Tulsa rally was like “Beirut in the eighties.”
ABC Correspondent Jon Karl recounts the episode on his upcoming book “Betrayal.”
Trump’s ill-fated June 2020 rally in Tulsa saw paltry turnout and caused a COVID-19 outbreak.
Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale warned the former president that the venue for his June 2020 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma looked as empty and desolate as “Beirut in the eighties,” according to a forthcoming book.
ABC News Washington Correspondent Jon Karl reveals new details about the ill-fated Tulsa rally, and the COVID-19 outbreak it caused, in an excerpt of his book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show” published Thursday in Vanity Fair.
Trump determined by mid-June that the solution to his deteriorating poll numbers, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cratering economy, was to get back on the road with his signature rallies.
While Parscale and his team pitched Trump on more COVID-safe options like a drive-in rally in Tampa, multiple outdoor venues, and even a boat rally outside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump insisted on an indoor location that could hold a huge crowd, Karl writes.
The Trump campaign eventually settled on the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a state with a Republican governor and relatively relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite Parscale boasting about hundreds of thousands of ticket signups and registrations on Twitter, the kind of giant, boisterous crowds typical of pre-COVID Trump rallies never materialized that day in Tulsa.
“Is it going to be full?” Trump queered Parscale on the phone from Air Force One on his way to Oklahoma.
“No, sir. It looks like Beirut in the eighties,” Parscale replied, according to Karl.
Beirut, the capital of the Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon, was beset by outright civil war, conflicts with other nations, like Israel and Syria, and general unrest and instability from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s.
Parscale felt anxious about the failure to draw a big crowd, and apologized to Trump on that phone call for the paltry attendance, which was already being highlighted and mocked on social media before the rally even started.
“I’m sorry. I threw everything I could at it,” Parscale told Trump before the former president hung up on him, Karl wrote.
Parscale then warned other staff that “none of you should go anywhere near the president today, including me” because of Trump’s anger about the failed turnout.
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