President Trump is poised to kick off hissince March 3 next week, after a three-month hiatus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The president announced Wednesday his next campaign event is slated for Friday, June 19, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at "a beautiful new venue — brand new." The rally will take place on Juneteenth, a nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Following the Oklahoma kick-off rally, the president said his re-election campaign will host a "big one" in Florida and Texas, followed by a stop in Arizona.
The return of the rallies was first reported by Politico.
For weeks, the president has hinted at his return to the packed arenas that defined his 2016 presidential bid — his preferred way to riff on political rivals, introduce campaign mantras and meet voters. "We got to get back to the rallies," Mr. Trump told reporters in May. "I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."
Mr. Trump has stated he would consider restarting rallies in reopened arenas and "big, outdoor" venues, suggesting Georgia or Florida as potential locales. "I don't wanna have a stadium where you're supposed to have a person, then seven empty seats," he remarked.
In nationwide and battleground state match-ups, the president's poll numbers have sunk amid his handling of the pandemic and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. In a , Joe Biden is leading Mr. Trump, 47% to 43%.
The president's campaign plans to use in-person events as a metaphor for the campaign's central focus: Reopening and economic rebound. The rally announcement followed Friday's jobs report, which included a surprising jump in May hiring nationwide and a decline in unemployment that shocked economic forecasters. Jumping on the good news, the Trump campaign launched an eight-figure television and online advertisement buy touting a "great economic comeback."
But the presidential rallies could carry a high medical risk in a country still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, with 113,000 lives lost in the United States. Mr. Trump's rallies have historically attracted thousands of supporters, with some stadiums filling beyond 10,000 attendees.
"The CDC certainly does not have guidelines for large gatherings of over 10,000 people," said CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus. "I don't know of any state guidelines that would enable that."
With states gradually lifting lockdowns, Mr. Trump's advisers are still deliberating on precautions ahead of the. GOP leaders vow to conduct temperature checks and make anti-bacterial gel widely available to attendees, but will not require masks or social distancing. At a Texas fundraiser headlined by the president on Thursday, attendees will be individually tested for the coronavirus.
Agus called individual COVID-19 tests a "reasonable precaution" but added that "a small number of people have a fever at any given time with the virus. So temperature checks have a rather small benefit."
Campaign aides predict blowback given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though they believe recent protests in large cities will make it harder for democrats to throw stones. Deliberations by campaign officials take into account new coronavirus cases, according to a senior campaign official. As more Americans venture out to socialize or protest, 22 states are seeing higher rates of new coronavirus cases.
"Certainly we're going to see a rise in the numbers of protesters that have happened," Agus said. He noted that while experts cannot predict what will happen in the fall, "Over the next four to six weeks, we're going to have significant numbers of new cases happening in this country. We're seeing it now."
With the election just 148 days away, the campaign is seeing now is a fast-approaching finish line. Joint RNC-Trump campaign operations relaunched in-person canvassing this week in reopened states such as Florida. Over the past 48 hours, the campaign has recruited 2016 Trump campaign aides Jason Miller and Boris Epshteyn to help bolster Parscale's sprawling operation.