Earlier this week, President Trump announced plans to re-start his campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump's hopes to fill the 19,000-seat arena rest on mostly ignoring the ongoing pandemic. But the campaign is apparently aware of the health risks of gathering thousands of people in one place, because it made sure it wouldn't take any fault if people fall ill. Online, Trump's campaign added a coronavirus disclaimer asking attendees of the Tulsa rally to agree not to hold the campaign liable if they get sick.
The disclaimer is at the bottom of the rally's online registration form. It reads, "By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present."
Along with asking attendees the recognize the "inherent risk" of exposure, the disclaimer adds, "By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury."
It's a little rich to see such a disclaimer on anything associated with Trump. The president has consistently refused to wear a mask — especially in front of cameras — and downplayed coronavirus. In addition, Trump's son, Eric Trump, who is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, claimed coronavirus will "magically" disappear after Election Day. In February, Eric's older brother Donald Trump Jr. claimed Democrats were hoping coronavirus would reach the United States and "kill millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning." Trump himself oversaw a lethally shoddy coronavirus response and egged on protesters who were defying the social distancing orders designed to keep them safe.
While Trump and his sons treat coronavirus like it's a political game and not a literal pandemic, cases have continued rising. This week, the U.S. hit 2 million coronavirus cases with surges in states like Texas and Arizona where lockdowns were hastily lifted.
Tulsa is currently in its third phase of reopening. Per a May 29 statement from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) office, "Under Phase 3, businesses may resume unrestricted staffing at their worksites by observing proper CDC-recommended social distancing protocols and are recommended to continue increased cleaning and disinfecting practices."
But NBC News reported that while a Trump campaign official claims there will be health precautions at the event, they did not elaborate on specifically what protective measures would be taken.
Critics of Trump's upcoming rally have noted more than the risk of coronavirus. His announcement angered many Black people who pointed out that Trump plans to hold his rally at the site of a racist massacre on Juneteenth. While it's not a federal holiday, Juneteenth is important to many Black people as it marks the day when all slaves were considered free.
In response, Trump officials said the date was not picked intentionally. The Hill reported that Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said that "as the party of Lincoln, Republicans are proud of the history of Juneteenth" and touted Trump's supposed "record of success for Black Americans." The outlet also reported that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, "The African-American community is very near and dear to his heart. At these rallies, he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities."
It's unclear if Trump's officials are attending the same rallies as everyone else. In the past, Trump has used his rallies to go after Somali refugees in Minnesota and once made a joke after an audience suggestion to shoot migrants in order to stop them from entering the United States. And while Trump clings onto being part of the same party as former President Abraham Lincoln, party evolution over the last couple hundred years means the Republican Party of today is nowhere near the one Lincoln was the leader of.
Trump himself, during an interview with Fox News's Harris Faulkner, had this to say about the rally's date and location: "Think about [the rally] as a celebration. In the history of politics, I think I can say there's never been any group or any person that's had rallies like I do. I go and I just say get me the biggest stadium and we fill it up every time. We've never had a vacant seat."