TULSA, Oklahoma – At an event as big, complex and scheduled on short notice as President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa Saturday, there are innumerable behind-the-scenes tidbits that never make it to click-bait headlines or a story.
Here are a few such takeaways.
Tulsa rally-goers ranged from CEOs of major corporations to heads of small manufacturers, to a Tulsan currently living under a bridge because he temporarily lost his job due to COVID-19, from home-schooling families to higher education students, from places as far away as Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California as well as numerous fly-over states in between, representing every color and age, from those who voted for Trump in 2016 to those who weren’t even registered to vote in 2016.
A couple of first-time Trump rally attendees pointed out the President sense of humor, saying he was “hilarious,” in the way he presented stories about “the fake news.”
One attendee from Indiana was impressed that the rally began with a prayer, and noted that it is needed to set an example to get the country turning back to God.
A freelance photographer who has captured a countless number and variety of events described herself as “neutral” on Trump. She said that even though she knew it would be, the Trump rally was like nothing she had ever seen before with the energy and enthusiasm being beyond what she could have imagined.
People who were complete strangers before camping out for days prior to the rally became a “family” of sorts, inviting other attendees to their hotel rooms or homes to shower or rest.
Trump supporters respect and are grateful for law enforcement and members of the military. When a squad of National Guardsman moved as a group toward their assigned position, they were greeted with applause and repeated cheers of U-S-A.
Security and Safety
A unified command structure was in place for the Tulsa Police Department, State Police and National Guard. When all local resources were tapped out, requests for assistance went to surrounding counties. When that did not yield sufficient results, request went statewide and outside the state. Responses came from as far as Texas to ensure the security of the area.
While media dismissed the impact of protesters blocking rally-goers at the entrance gates, a Tulsa police officer and a vendor independently confirmed to The Tennessee Star that they had indeed blocked the main entrance gate.
At least one hotel within a couple of blocks of the BOK Center incurred the added expense of hiring an outside security service to check room keys after the rally, because of protesters in the area.
While President Trump was widely criticized for holding a rally while there are still cases of COVID-19, recommended precautions were taken by the campaign. The first thing rally-goers encountered as they entered through the gates was someone handing them a mask and telling them they had to put it on before having their temperature checked. The fact that most attendees took the masks off was their free choice to do so.
Gallon-sized jugs with pumps containing alcohol-based sanitizer were readily available along with two-ounce squeeze bottles handed out by volunteers to any and all attendees who wanted them.
For the comfort of rally-goers who were going to be outside for hours in near 90-degree temperatures, in addition to combination oscillating fan/mist cooling stations, the Trump campaign had truckloads of chilled individual water bottles that volunteers handed out.
One volunteer for the event told The Star that prior to the event, the Trump campaign people were great to work with. But, during the event where she was responsible for directing media to the reserved area in the BOK Center, they were not at all good to work with.
When members of the media had to stand in line about 60 people deep for about 40 minutes in the hot sun to pick up their credentials, they did not interact with each other as most other people would do, for instance, standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
With the dozens of media members present, virtually none of them find any humor in President Trump’s speeches, spend a lot of time on their phones, and don’t interact with each other.
Rally-goers understand Trump’s references to the “fake news” members of the main stream media and frequently boo and give thumbs down to them during President Trump’s speech.
Special accommodations are made for members of the media with printed credentials or identification, special screenings of equipment, a separate entrance and staff available for assistance.
A significant portion of the venue’s floor section is reserved for and dedicated to media attendance. Barriers are put up around the media area, a riser is put in place so that pictures and videos are not blocked by Trump supporters near the stage, and numerous tables, chairs and power cords are provided as work stations for members of the media. This all comes at a cost to the campaign, not just monetarily, but by reducing the amount of space available for Trump supporters.
While one major media outlet asked Dr. Carol Swain, a member of the Black Voices for Trump Advisory Board, for a comment about why she was attending the rally and if she had any health concerns, they never published the emailed comment she provided.
Diamond and Silk
Sisters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson are better known as the Diamond and Silk internet sensations they became in 2015 when they switched from Democrat to Republican so they could vote for Donald Trump. They sit on the Black Voices for Trump Advisory Board and appeared on both the outside and indoor stages at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
Diamond and Silk encouraged attendees to vote RED: Remove Every Democrat
They gave Joe Biden a new nickname: Jim Crowe Joe.
Diamond and Silk explained explaining that Biden hadn’t ever done anything for anyone, especially blacks.
They pointed out that the “three strikes and you’re out” legislation that has incarcerated so many blacks over the years was sponsored by then-Senator Joe Biden.
This is something that Joe Biden took credit for, saying “Every major crime bill that has come out of this Congress has had the name Joe Biden on that bill,” and “We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill,” as can be seen in this video.
At the time that Diamond and Silk were on the outside stage, many of the rally-goers had already moved from the near 90-degree heat into the air-conditioned BOK Center. Those remaining outside were almost exclusively white and, while often labeled as racist, gave Diamond and Silk probably the warmest reception of anyone that appeared on that stage and rivaling the reception of anyone but Trump himself on the indoor stage.
Rally-goers showed their enthusiasm and energy for President Trump with some showing up nearly a week in advance to ensure their entry, by standing in hours before the gates opened, by enduring the heat, taking the time to attending the hours-long event as well as the attention and response they gave to him during his speech.
It also became evident as President Trump went off-script sharing the details within an elongated story about the graduation of 1,106 cadets from West Point, that enjoyed being back in the company of his supporters.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.