Trump holds rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma

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8:58 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump uses racist term to refer to coronavirus

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

As President Trump spoke about the coronavirus and media coverage of it during his Saturday rally, he referred to the virus with a racist term "kung flu," while complaining about the amount of names for the virus.

"It's a disease, without question, has more names than any disease in history, " he said. "I can name 'kung flu,' I can name 19 different versions of name. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu. What difference? I think we have 19, 20 different versions of the name."

This was the first time he used the racist term, opting to call it the "Chinese virus" early in the pandemic before changing to Covid or the coronavirus.

Watch:

11:34 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump touts accomplishments in first campaign rally since pandemic hit

From CNN's Maeve Reston

President Trump opened his rally vowing to defeat Joe Biden and touting his appointments of conservative judges, his efforts to rebuild the American military, the tax cuts that he championed and his vow to be the president of law and order.

"Republicans are the party of liberty, equality and justice for all," Trump said shortly after taking the stage. "We are the party of Abraham Lincoln and we are the party of law and order."

"Five months from now we're going to defeat Sleepy Joe Biden," he said, before mocking former Vice President Joe Biden by suggesting that he often doesn't know what state he's campaigning in. Trump criticized the media for failing to give him credit for the number of Americans who have now been tested for Covid-19 and played up

Trump argued that his administration's "incredible success in rebuilding America" stands in stark contrast to "the extremism, and destruction, and violence of the radical left." He argued that he sent in the National Guard after watching the protests in Minneapolis.

"You saw these thugs that came along -- these people call them protesters," he said, singling out the protesters in Seattle. "Americans have watched left wing radicals burn down buildings loot businesses, destroy private property, injure hundreds of dedicated police officers."

He charged that Democrats are trying to "demolish our heritage" — referring to the tearing down of Confederate monuments -- and replace it with their "oppressive regime." And he railed against the calls by some protesters to defund the police, claiming at one point that Americans will call 911 and the number will be out of service.

"These people are stone-cold crazy," Trump said.

Some context: On Saturday, Trump's campaign communications director asserted that the smaller-than-expected crowds were partially a result of interference by protesters — though none of the many CNN reporters and producers on the ground in Tulsa saw any incident with protesters trying to block supporters from attending.

The President had hoped that the Tulsa rally would mark a triumphant return to the campaign trail more than 100 days after the coronavirus shut down the country and halted all in-person campaigning.

Recent national polls have shown Trump falling far behind his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in head-to-head matchups. By trying to resume the massive gatherings that fueled his 2016 bid, Trump is hoping to reinvigorate his reelection bid in the midst of a pandemic, a recession and a national debate over racism.

11:31 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump takes stage at rally without wearing a mask

Pool
Pool

President Trump is not wearing a mask at his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally. He has now entered the stage to deliver remarks.

In an interview with Axios Friday, President Trump said he would not wear a mask at the rally: “Not as a protest but I don't feel that I'm in danger."

Trump also told Axios that he wants rally attendees to “make their own decisions” about wearing a face mask. He didn’t encourage or discourage people to wear them, and called masks "a double-edged sword."

 "I recommend people do what they want," the President said. 

He told Axios, “there was a time when people thought it was worse wearing a mask,” adding, "I let people make up their own decision."

Rally attendees are not required to maintain social distance or wear masks, even as the administration's top public health officials continue to stress the importance of both measures important to prevent the spread of virus.

8:06 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump campaign blames "radical" protestors, media for lack of crowd size

From CNN's Brian Rokus and Kevin Bohn

A peaceful protester yells outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa on Saturday.
A peaceful protester yells outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa on Saturday. Charlie Riedel/AP

The Trump Campaign is trying to blame “radical” protesters, even saying some were allegedly blocking metal detectors, for frightening off some of the President’s supporters from attending the campaign events today in Tulsa.

Several CNN teams on the ground said they did not see any of that type of activity near the event site. There were protesters in the downtown area, although there was a large security perimeter preventing them from getting within blocks of the arena where the rally is being held.

“President Trump is rallying in Tulsa with thousands of energetic supporters, a stark contrast to the sleepy campaign being run by Joe Biden from his basement in Delaware. Sadly, protestors interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally. Radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told Ryan Nobles.

CNN teams on the ground – including one that has been at the main entrance nearly all day – said they have seen no evidence of protestors entering the security gates.

Gary Tuchman, who reported from various locations in downtown and spoke with multiple supporters, said nobody mentioned the problems referenced in the statement.

And Abby Phillip reported that when she went through security to the overflow area there were very few people coming in and that it was not possible for protestors to access the metal detectors.

MSNBC had reported earlier that protestors blocked one of the gates.

CNN has reached out to the Secret Service for comment.

Watch:

7:56 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Smaller-than-expected crowd at Trump rally

From CNN's Maeve Reston and Ryan Nobles

An attendee sits in the upper section of the Bank of Oklahoma Center prior to Trump's campaign rally on Saturday.
An attendee sits in the upper section of the Bank of Oklahoma Center prior to Trump's campaign rally on Saturday. Win McNamee/Getty Images

In the days leading up to President Trump's Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he and his allies ginned up expectations for a massive crowd with campaign officials telling CNN that more than a million people had registered to attend, and one local official stating they expected 100,000 to show up near the arena.

But those crowds didn't appear as large as expected Saturday afternoon, leading to an abrupt change of plans by the campaign.

A campaign source told CNN that the team was abandoning plans for the President to speak to an "overflow" area outside the arena in Tulsa where only a couple dozen people were standing near the outdoor stage less than two hours before the rally.

Reporting from inside the arena, CNN's Ryan Nobles described the smaller-than-expected crowd:

8:10 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump supporter not concerned about possibly catching Covid-19 at rally: "I'm not going to get it"

Ahead of tonight's rally in Tulsa, CNN's Gary Tuchman spoke to Trump supporters about concerns expressed by health experts that today's rally, which will be held indoors, could spark the spread of new coronavirus cases.

Hear what Trump supporters told CNN:

Today's rally comes as Oklahoma is seeing a steady increase in its average of new confirmed cases per day. New cases in Tulsa County have also been climbing, and the county is now seeing its highest seven-day average for new cases at 97.3, according to the latest data from the Tulsa Health Department.

Rally attendees will not be required to maintain social distance or wear masks, even as the administration's top public health officials continue to stress the importance of both measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The campaign said that hand sanitizer, temperature checks and masks will be provided to rally attendees, though actually wearing a mask won't be required.

7:36 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Who you can expect to see at Trump's rally

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Kaitlan Collins

Earlier this week, the Trump campaign announced that senior campaign officials would "lead a group of over 50 surrogates to campaign on behalf of President Trump" at the rally.

The group includes:

  • Several Oklahoma Republicans, including Sen. James Lankford
  • Several Black Trump campaign surrogates, including Pastor Darrell Scott, Herman Cain, Diamond and Silk, Dr. Alveda King and Terrence K. Williams
  • Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan and other Republican members of Congress

CNN has learned that the Trump campaign is chartering a jet for the group of Trump surrogates in hopes of having a show of force at the Tulsa rally.

President Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale looks out a window as people enter the Bank of Oklahoma Center prior to the rally.
President Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale looks out a window as people enter the Bank of Oklahoma Center prior to the rally. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior campaign officials, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, are also attending. Parscale was seen inside the rally arena wearing a “Trump Pence” branded mask.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Friday that White House officials would be attending the event as well. McEnany said she'd be in attendance, but that she didn't plan to wear a mask.

The rally was initially scheduled to be on Juneteenth, the oldest regular celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, but the timing and location drew heavy criticism from African American leaders and Democrats.

8:28 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump will be speaking soon in Tulsa. Here's what it looks like inside the rally's arena.

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Supporters participate in a prayer prior to the rally at the Bank of Oklahoma Center.
Supporters participate in a prayer prior to the rally at the Bank of Oklahoma Center. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump is set to deliver remarks at a campaign rally in the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma a 8:00 p.m. ET.

Though many medical experts, including top health officials within his administration, have warned against large gatherings at a time when coronavirus cases are rising in Oklahoma, Trump is holding this evening's event at the indoor Bank of Oklahoma Center arena, an indoor venue, that holds nearly 20,000 people.

Merchandise venders wear masks while selling campaign gear.
Merchandise venders wear masks while selling campaign gear. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Few rallygoers were wearing masks as they entered the venue to take seats that were right next to one another. The crowd standing near the stage was already tightly packed as people without face coverings stood face-to-face talking to one another as loud music played in the background.

The Trump campaign said that it takes "safety seriously," and noted hand sanitizer, temperature checks and masks will be provided to rally attendees, though actually wearing a mask won't be required.

Rallygoers participate in the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the event.
Rallygoers participate in the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the event. Win McNamee/Getty Images

POOL
POOL

8:25 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Ahead of Tulsa rally, Trump threatens protesters

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Kevin Liptak and Nikki Carvajal

Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate near the entrance to President Trump's campaign rally on Saturday.
Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate near the entrance to President Trump's campaign rally on Saturday. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A day before his rally in Tulsa, President Trump suggested protesters planning to demonstrate at his event would be treated roughly.

Despite previously describing himself as "an ally of all peaceful protesters," Trump used his platform on Friday to warn those who oppose him to stay away from the campaign event.

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!" he tweeted. 

But later Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attempted to clarify that when the President tweeted that it would be a “much different scene,” he was not trying to threaten anyone's right to peaceably assemble. She said Trump was only referring to any "violent" demonstrators.

Trump's tweet came as the nation marked Juneteenth — the day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Tulsa's Mayor G.T. Bynum had issued an executive order Thursday establishing a curfew in parts of Tulsa's downtown area, saying more than 100,000 people were expected in the vicinity of the event.

Trump said on Twitter Friday that he spoke with Tulsa's mayor about the curfew and that "there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters attending the #MAGA Rally."

At the request of the Secret Service, the mayor of Tulsa announced he was rescinding the curfew he put in place on Thursday near the BOK Center.