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Alternet - July 18, 2020

  If you want to know exactly how well Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is faring as we count down the final three months before Election Day, all you have to do is Google “list of rallies for the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign” and compare it with what you’ve seen lately.

Now that was a presidential campaign! Not dozens of rallies, hundreds of rallies! Trump held 187 rallies during the Republican primaries, between June 15, 2015, and June 3, 2016. He held rallies in Costa Mesa, California; Warwick, Rhode Island; Vienna, Ohio; Evansville, Indiana; Warren, Michigan; Bethpage, New York; and dozens and dozens of other cities and towns.

I remember the rally in Bethpage, because I went to it. It was held at the Grumman Studios on April 6. I was curious to see how the gold-plated flim-flam man I had followed when I lived in New York City in the ’70s and ’80s was doing on the campaign trail, so I logged onto the Donald Trump for President website.

Here is what I found: a short list of the upcoming rallies and an online application for a ticket to each of them. There were rallies scheduled for Rochester and Albany and Pittsburgh and Hartford, so I filled out the brief form for my ticket to the Bethpage rally and printed it out. Then I went looking for the rest of the Trump campaign website — you know, the white papers and list of endorsements and positions on hot-topic issues.

There weren’t any more pages on the Trump campaign website. You could apply for tickets to the next few rallies, and that was it.

As it happened, I had been on the Hillary Clinton for President website recently for the same reason, looking for an event I could attend so I could get a look at the candidate in action. On the left of the main page, there was a list of upcoming campaign events — fundraisers, rallies, town meetings and so forth, covering several weeks, as I recall. Hillary wasn’t appearing at a single one of them. Instead, “surrogates” stood in for her – Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, various senators and sometimes a governor. But no Hillary. On the right side of the page were links to about 35 campaign “white papers” giving Hillary’s positions on everything from immigration to crime to health care to gun control. But at least for the few weeks covered by the campaign’s main webpage at that moment, Hillary Clinton was not to be found.

In the same few weeks covered by the schedule on the Clinton for President website I looked at, Trump appeared in Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia, California and Oregon.

Trump’s campaign after he won the Republican nomination was just as busy. He appeared in 129 rallies between June 10 and Nov. 7 of 2016. He was all over the place: fairgrounds, convention centers, Las Vegas casino hotels, airports, sports stadiums, concert venues, even an equestrian center in Jacksonville, and a maritime park amphitheater in Pensacola, day after day, rally after rally, sometimes two in different cities on the same day.

Meanwhile, in some office park in San Antonio, Texas, a political unknown by the name of Brad Parscale was gearing up to run a virtual campaign on social media, raising money and running ads on Google, Twitter, and Facebook to a targeted audience, largely using the names of people who had signed up for tickets to Trump’s rallies during the primary and general election.

You know the result of Trump’s 300-plus rallies in 2015 and 2016, supplemented by Parscale’s expert manipulation of Facebook and Twitter with some Russian hacking and social media mischief thrown in. He won.

And he planned to win again in 2020 by following the same playbook: dozens, perhaps as many as a hundred rallies, complimented by a brand new Parscale digital operation in a May tweet.

So how’s the Death Star firing, Brad my boy?

Parscale was removed as campaign chairman this week, replaced by a former Chris Christie factotum named Bill Stepien, one of whose career highlights was being named in the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal involving the closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in 2013. Stepien saw duty as “field director” during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and the way things are going now, directing traffic is about all that’s left for him to do in 2020.

As for those rallies? Well, Trump appeared at a grand total of 10 rallies back in January and February before the coronavirus took hold of the White House and began to strangle its grand plans. Last month, a rally was held in deep-red Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was intended to kick off the Trump 2020 general election campaign. You know how wonderfully that turned out. After bragging on social media about a million tickets that had been sold for the Tulsa arena (which held only 19,000), Trump was able to “fill” the arena with just over 6,000 of his most loyal base voters. An “overflow” rally outside the arena was canceled when nobody showed up. ...
Read full report at Alternet