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Trump Campaign Puts Campaign Rallies on Hold While Daily Virus Cases Spike Over 50K

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Trump Campaign Puts Campaign Rallies on Hold While Daily Virus Cases Spike Over 50K

2020-07-02 16:25:10

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)

Donald Trump just got his campaign restarted, and now he has to pause the rallies again. It's not a good sign for him, as he thrives on the gratification he gets from the hoards of his supporters, but with the big uptick in coronavirus cases, he more or less has to pause it again.

His next known planned event was an Alabama rally. It was never announced formally but was still expected to take place. The Trump campaign had been checking out possible venues. That has now been cancelled, however, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The rally was planned for the evening before the Republican Senate primary election in Alabama. This is a faceoff between the Trump-endorsed former football coach Tommy Tuberville and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump fired in 2018.

NBC reported that the decision to cancel the event was partially because of COVID-19 concerns. Several south and western states are seeing a surge in cases, leading governors to backtrack on their reopening plans.

"No rally has been announced, and we never comment on rally planning," said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. "The campaign is constantly gathering information and investigating rally dates and locations."

This news happened to come on the day that Florida had a new single-day record for new cases of the virus: 10,109. It gets worse for the country, as the U.S. as a whole saw 52,789 new coronavirus cases, again a single-day record.

"We are not flattening the curve right now," said the government's coronavirus testing coordinator Admr. Brett Giroir. "The curve is still going up."

"I think it's pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious-disease expert.

Trump's rallies and speeches were a trademark of his 2016 campaign, and for many, it seems Trump never left the campaign trail, trying to ride that high to reelection. He continually held rallies and gave campaign speeches until he was forced to stop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in Trump's time away from the campaign trail, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, overtook him in the polls. This was all done from his spot inside his basement, where he gave speeches and made TV appearances. Trump doesn't seem to have a way of wooing a crowd, though, without a packed venue.

And that's what he didn't find when he restarted his rallies. His first was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he tweeted beforehand, "My campaign hasn't started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!"

However, between the controversy of rallygoers not being asked to social distance or wear masks and Black Lives Matter protesters showing up in force, Trump only filled about one-third of the venue after his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had announced they had a million requests for tickets.

A few days later, Trump held a campaign for his student supporters in an Arizona megachurch. This was a better showing but was also a much smaller venue. Trump was criticized for holding it, though, as the state is going through an uptick in cases.

While Trump has criticized Biden for his virtual events, his campaign is moving into the same strategy. The campaign's website shows "featured events" that are all either held online or over the phone. Upcoming events are now being changed to "virtual seminars."

Again, Trump thrives on rallies, so it's unknown what will happen to his reelection campaign. Rallies also aid in adding contact info to his campaign's database.

"Right now, in big cities, we're walking out with up to 100,000 new phone numbers," said Parscale last fall.  "That's 100,000 people I can send a text message to on Election Day."

"They use the rallies to collect data," said Republican donor and Trump supporter Dan Eberhart. "I've seen internal numbers indicating that at any given rally, they've got 80 percent Republicans attending and 20 percent either Democrats or uncommitted voters. And it's that 20 percent slice they target, using Facebook to build datasets of their friends and their social networks."

"That's a huge part of how they grow their footprint, and Parscale does this really well," he continued. "On a granular level, the rallies are really a data-mining operation."

This year, "they were counting on [rallies] being a  juggernaut for Trump and a huge advantage over Biden," added Eberhart. This is mostly because of the data and outreach. "But the coronavirus has created a new digital landscape." 

At this point, it's unknown what will happen to Trump's campaign. He was already struggling without his beloved rallies, and now he's going to be forced away from them again. His campaign will need to figure out a new way to reach the voters.

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