July 18, 2020


No rallies, no Death Star: Trump's campaign is disintegrating before our eyes: Brad Parscale? Who's he? Nothing Trump did in 2016 is working -- his campaign is being managed by the coronavirus (LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, JULY 18, 2020, Salon)

And he planned to win again in 2020 by following the same playbook: dozens, perhaps as many as a hundred rallies, complimented by a brand new Parscale digital operation he labeled the "Death Star" in a May tweet.

So how's the Death Star firing, Brad my boy? 

Parscale was removed as campaign chairman this week, replaced by a former Chris Christie factotum named Bill Stepien, one of whose career highlights was being named in the infamous "Bridgegate" scandal involving the closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013. Stepien saw duty as "field director" during Trump's 2016 campaign, and the way things are going now, directing traffic is about all that's left for him to do in 2020.

As for those rallies? Well, Trump appeared at a grand total of 10 rallies back in January and February before the coronavirus took hold of the White House and began to strangle its grand plans. Last month, a rally was held in deep-red Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was intended to kick off the Trump 2020 general election campaign. You know how wonderfully that turned out. After bragging on social media about a million tickets that had been sold for the Tulsa arena (which held only 19,000), Trump was able to "fill" the arena with just over 6,000 of his most loyal base voters. An "overflow" rally outside the arena was canceled when nobody showed up. 

A few days later, Trump held another rally at the Dream City megachurch in Phoenix, attended by an audience of about 3,000 students. 

Few attendees at either rally wore protective masks, despite a local ordinance requiring them in Arizona. There was an outbreak of coronavirus in Tulsa following the rally there, and the Republican governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, who attended the rally, tested positive for the virus this week. On Wednesday, Oklahoma saw its largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases, rising by 1,075, nearly a 5 percent increase in the state's total number of cases.

The Republican National Committee announced plans for a scaled back convention next month in Jacksonville, complete with social distancing and masks. Most convention events will be restricted to about 2,500 delegates. On the final day, Aug. 27, when Trump gives his acceptance speech, alternate delegates and guests will bring the total allowed inside the arena to about 7,000. The Trump campaign has been scrambling for new venues to hold rallies where they won't have to worry about the kind of depressed turnout they got in Tulsa. As of this weekend, no new rallies had been scheduled.

But even more worrisome for Trump was a story in the New York Times last week reporting that Facebook is considering banning political ads on its site sometime before the November general election. Facebook advertising was as important to Trump in 2016 as rallies were, and with the campaign facing the possibility of no more rallies at all, Facebook looked to be even more important this year. 

If Facebook pulls political ads and Twitter continues to fact-check Trump's tweets for lies and hate speech, all he will have left is Rose Garden press conferences like we saw on Tuesday, when Trump accused Biden of being against windows (!) and accused him of plans to disarm America's military, among sundry other unhinged accusations and cries of "Where's Hunter?" referring to his rival's son, Hunter Biden. By Thursday, Trump was railing about Biden's plans to deprive home dishwashers of water and blind everyone with low-wattage LED light bulbs.

We haven't even gotten into Trump's cratering poll numbers. He is down by double digits nationally, down by double digits in most battleground states, and even down in double digits among his own Republican base when it comes to his performance in handling the coronavirus. And then there are the worst numbers of all: almost 140,000 dead, with the CDC estimating 170,000 by Aug. 8. A record 77,000 people were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday, and 926 died. The numbers keep going up almost every day.

Posted by at July 18, 2020 9:31 AM