Campaign manager Brad Parscale had predicted a massive crowd at Trump's Tulsa rally.
Donald Trump's campaign predicted that throngs of supporters would turn out for his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 pandemic began, boasting about nearly 1 million ticket reservations for the event to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
But the massive turnout failed to materialize on Saturday, with fewer than 6,200 people showing up in an arena with a capacity of 19,000 people.
And to defend themselves against the visual of an embarrassingly small crowd, Trump aides falsely blamed protesters and the media for it.
"Radical protestors, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted on Saturday. "They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering. Thanks to the 1,000s who made it anyway!"
Mercedes Schlapp, an adviser to the campaign, also blamed protesters for the disappointing turnout.
"There were protesters who blocked the paths, and so we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally," Schlapp told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
However, Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said there wasn't any sort of blockade that prevented rallygoers from entering.
According to reports from the event, protesters did not make a significant impact on the rally.
The morning of the rally, the Washington Post's Dave Weigel tweeted, campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson looked at the line of people waiting to get into the event and asked, "Where are the protesters?" According to Weigel, the security perimeter set up around the arena kept any protesters far away.
Parscale also falsely blamed the media for scaring off the crowd, ignoring the fact that public health officials in Oklahoma had warned residents of the dangers of attending an in-person event during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event," Bruce Dart, who heads Tulsa's health department, told said ahead of the rally. "And I'm also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well."
Ultimately, Parscale, who had promised massive crowds, tried to save face, releasing a statement in which he said that he had "thousands" of messages from supporters saying they couldn't get into the rally.
However, Parscale did not provide any of those messages, nor would he divulge any names of supporters who couldn't get into the event, the New York Times reported.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.