President Donald Trump will host his first rally in months next week in Oklahoma, and he has plans to visit four other states in the coming weeks as his campaign prepares to relaunch in-person rallies, he said Wednesday.
The first rally will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. Ahead of a meeting with African American leaders at the White House, Trump said he also plans to visit Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Texas. The President has not held a rally since early March, when all in-person campaign events halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to start our rallies back up now. We’ve had a tremendous run at rallies,” Trump said.
The announcement came as coronavirus cases are on the rise in some parts of the US. Cases are still increasing in 19 states, while 24 are trending downward and seven are holding steady. Nationally, more than 1.9 million people have been infected by the virus and more than 112,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The resumption of rallies also comes in the midst of a growing conversation in the United States around the issue of race. Next week’s gathering is scheduled for June 19, or Juneteenth — the day that marks the end of slavery in the United States — in Tulsa, a city with a checkered racial history. In 1921 hundreds of African Americans were killed during racial unrest in the historic section of Tulsa known as “Black Wall Street.”
The President has been anxious to get back out on the trail since in-person campaigning stopped. His campaign had originally drawn up plans to restart rallies in July, but it pushed up the timeline as more states started reopening their economies and as big crowds have taken part in demonstrations across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
The campaign believes those crowds at the protests have opened the door to events like these rallies, despite the warnings from public health officials that social distancing, facial coverings and limited public interaction are still necessary to prevent a second spike of the virus.
“Where we go we will make sure it is safe to hold a rally and what safety precautions we put in place. We will talk about when we know exactly what kind of venue that it is that we are talking about,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Fox during an interview on Wednesday. “But I would point out to the national media that I don’t remember them doing any social distancing shaming when they were doing all the coverage of the demonstrations that were going on.”
The relaunch of Trump campaign rallies also comes as Republican officials are looking to move parts of the party’s national convention in August. The Republican National Committee elected to move much of the major programming out of the host city of Charlotte, North Carolina, in part because the Democratic governor and other officials in the state would not promise the convention could take place without precautions like social distancing and facial coverings.
Trump is expected to announce as early as Thursday where he will accept the nomination, and GOP sources say Jacksonville, Florida, is the front-runner.