Donald Trump wants to catch up again – but the audience is missing

Washington In the end, the US President’s campaign appearance in Tulsa in Oklahoma will perhaps remember this moment in particular: Donald Trump takes the glass of water in front of him at the lectern with his right hand, leads it to his mouth with one hand, drinks one Swallow and fling the glass triumphantly to the side. The crowd cheers.

With the gesture, Trump wants to refute what hardly anyone seriously believes anyway: that the president has Parkinson’s disease. The strange rumor had come up after Trump used both hands to bring his glass to his mouth in a speech at the Westpoint Military Academy last week. Previously, he raised his hand to salute 600 times, Trump justifies in Oklahoma, “it was like fitness training, only without weights”.

With his speech early Sunday morning in Germany, Trump wants to demonstrate strength and certainty of victory to his followers. The early return to the live election campaign after almost four months of corona break is an important building block in Trump’s campaign strategy.

The main aim is to get your own supporters to the ballot boxes as completely as possible in the presidential election on November 3. Trump wants to catch up in the polls.

But the Oklahoma show of optimism has at best been half successful. Many seats in the upper ranks of the 19,000-seat hall remain empty. A second stage in front of the hall, on which Trump wanted to speak to all fans who could not find a place inside, will be dismantled shortly before the event begins.

Outsiders only

Was it fear of contagion that frightened the audience away? In the hall there was neither a mask requirement nor a minimum distance. Anyone wishing to enter had to sign in advance that they would release the organizers from any liability for a possible corona infection. Or is there concern about leftist counter-demonstrators who blame the Republicans for the many empty rows?

Empty ranks when performing

Many seats in the upper ranks of the 19,000-seat hall remain empty.

(Photo: Reuters)

Trump is not used to a lack of interest in his performances. Halls and stadiums, packed with cheering fans, were among his trademarks. It was until the beginning of March that the corona virus paralyzed public life in the United States. The more the economy slumped, the lower Donald Trump’s polls dropped.

Just when the pandemic seemed to be over, the next crisis followed: White police officers killed the defenseless African American George Floyd in Minneapolis. The United States has experienced the worst unrest since the early 1990s. Instead of resolving the conflict, Trump continued to fuel him with research on law and order sayings on Twitter and controversial police operations in front of the White House.

Trump’s deficit to his democratic challenger Joe Biden is now 12 percent, according to a conservative news channel “Fox News”. As of April 8, Fox News had predicted a tie. From favorites, Trump has become an outsider in the presidential race.

If Christopher Wlezien is asked about an incumbent president who has caught up a similarly high deficit a few months before the election, no one can think of it, even after a long time considering it. Wlezien is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in US presidential elections. He estimates the likelihood that Trump will still be able to defend the White House on November 3 “at 20 to 25 percent”.

Criticism of Germany

Trump, however, gives the impression in Oklahoma that he does not give anything to the lousy poll values. “The silent majority is bigger than ever,” he calls into the crowd. Trump portrays the United States as a country full of upright citizens surrounded by opponents.

The Germans also get their share: “We should protect Germany from Russia,” Trump says with applause. “But Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for energy” from a “brand new pipeline”. Trump has long criticized that Germany does not meet NATO’s target for defense spending. He also said that clearly to “Angela”, who was also a “charming woman” and a “good negotiator”.

The man who organized the Oklahoma event for Trump is called Brad Parscale. The former college basketball player from Kansas has already led the 2016 election campaign for Donald Trump and is still his campaign manager in 2020. This longevity makes Parscale a rarity in the President’s hire-and-fire environment.

As in 2016, Parscale relies on an unusual campaign strategy. Presidential candidates usually try to reach undecided voters in the middle beyond their own camp. To do this, they send conciliatory messages in the direction of the opposing camp. Such messages are completely absent in Oklahoma.

Trump never mentions George Floyd in Tulsa. Instead, Parscale wants to mobilize its followers as completely as possible to cast their votes. The goal: No Republicans should stay home on November 3rd.

“In order to win, the Republicans must first make sure that they have their bases behind them and secondly try to damage Biden’s credibility,” analyzes political scientist Wlezien.

The Trump supporters group only makes up around 40 percent of those eligible to vote. But that could be enough for a majority if enough potential Democratic voters stay at home.

In order to achieve this, the 74-year-old Trump caricatures his 77-year-old opponent Joe Biden on almost every occasion as an underdeveloped socialist who is underdeveloped. After Trump extensively praised his own excellent health in Tulsa, the decisive sentence follows: “But one thing is certain – there is definitely something wrong with Biden.” And his fans cheer again.

More: The fact that Trump violates established election laws does not mean that he acts rashly, says Handelsblatt correspondent Christian Rickens.

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