Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
After President Donald Trump's recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which featured a lower-than-expected crowd turnout after the campaign had hyped expected attendance for days, Fox host and Trump confidant Lou Dobbs is questioning the effectiveness of Trump's reelection campaign apparatus.
Trump's campaign rally, held indoors at the Bank of Oklahoma center in Tulsa on June 20, drew around 6,200 attendees in a venue that had a maximum capacity of over 19,000. The campaign -- including both Trump and Brad Parscale, his campaign manager -- had spent the week prior boasting about receiving a million ticket requests. The event also initially featured an outdoor overflow venue where Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to speak to excess supporters -- at one point, Trump predicted 40,000 people could attend in that space -- but the overflow plan was scrapped at the last minute when fewer than 25 people showed up.
After the rally, outlets began reporting on internal campaign turmoil and anger over the disastrous turnout. While some involved with the campaign are reportedly pointing fingers at Parscale, most in right-wing media so far appear to have stayed away from direct criticisms of Trump's campaign or Parscale, instead offering nameless critiques or vaguely acknowledging that mistakes were made.
A notable exception is Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who is known for his close relationship with and influence on Trump. On the June 22 edition of his Fox Business show, Dobbs and his guest Ed Rollins directly criticized the leadership of the campaign. Dobbs said the campaign was "having a lot of trouble" and that the rally had been "a mess." Dobbs questioned whether it was time for a campaign "shake-up," asking Rollins, "Should heads roll?"
Rollins, who chairs the Great America PAC, criticized Parscale by name, citing a lack of campaign experience and noting the campaign manager has financially benefited from his campaign work. At one point, the on-screen chyron read: "Brad Parscale's failures as Trump's campaign manager."
LOU DOBBS (HOST): This is, no question about it, it's a mess for the campaign. Not necessarily for the president, but it's a mess for him. Should heads roll? Should there be a shake-up? What should happen here?
ED ROLLINS (FORMER GOP STRATEGIST): I would argue at this point in time -- there's 134 days to go, and this president is behind by 9, 10 points in almost every poll, including the Fox polls. The momentum has been against him for a period of time. They've got to shake the campaign up. They can't fire the candidate, obviously, cause that's what the campaign is all about. My concern about Brad, who I don't know, is a guy who basically has a bunch of operations that he's running. He's never run a campaign before; he was the digital guy four years ago. He has the great confidence of Jared Kushner, who's also never been in a real campaign before.
But the reality is he was the one who threw the million figure out -- if you're going to be the guy who supposedly knows the numbers, you're throwing a million figure out, someone should have said, first of all, well, the president's only got 900,000 margin victory in the whole state last time. Do you think every person who voted for him is going to come to a rally? No. The answer's no. Less than 200,000 voted in the Tulsa district. So you lower those expectations automatically and if you know anything about politics, you do that. So my sense is Brad, who basically is running an empire, has taken $30 or $40 million out of the campaign already, which is unheard of -- you should have a manager in there who knows something about politics who's salaried, at not a high salary, at a low salary. Bloomberg hired a guy who basically spent all the money he promised to spend; he paid less than $200,000. When I ran Reagan's campaign, I took exactly what I was making in the White House, $75,000, and everybody else had to be below me. So anyways, I think they need to shake it up.
DOBBS: The fact of the matter is that this campaign, you know, is having a lot of trouble. This president has, just as he did in 2016, he's got every force in the country arrayed against him. What does he have to do to get this thing turned around?
ROLLINS: He has to drive a message. The biggest issue to me was not how many people showed up, but there was no message. He rambled on for two hours the other night. The same old kind of rallies he had in the past. That's not what the country's looking for. The country right now is looking for not the past, but the future. Who basically is going to deal with this virus? It's very serious. Who's going to deal with this economic crisis? Who's going to solve these trillion-dollar deficits? Who's going to fight the Democrats off and make sure that Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, and obviously Joe Biden don't end up running this government, running the government into the ground?
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