BY ARUL LOUIS
New York, June 11 (IANS) Haunted by sagging poll numbers, US President Donald will relaunch his election campaign next week ending a nearly three-month-long pause taking advantage of the gradual easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“We’re going to be starting our rallies. The first one, we believe, will be probably — we’re just starting to call up — will be in Oklahoma — in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” he said on Wednesday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic Party candidate to run against Trump, is leading the President by 8.1 per cent in the latest RealClear Politics average of polls giving a sense of urgency to Trump’s campaign.
Trump did not say what kind of anti-coronavirus precautions will be taken at the June 19 rally, but Oklahoma state has one of the lowest infections rates at 1,890 cases per million with a total of 7,480 cases as of Wednesday evening, according to Worldometer.
“They’ve done a great job with COVID, as you know, in the state of Oklahoma,” Trump said.
To ensure that he gets a rousing reception at the campaign relaunch, he has chosen a state that is staunchly Republican – he won 65 per cent of the votes in 2016, state’s Governor Kevin Stitt is a Republican, and the party holds a commanding lead in the legislature.
After that, he said “we’re going to be coming into Florida — do a big one in Florida, a big one in Texas. They’re all going to be big. We’re going to Arizona”.
His official campaign website had not announced the Tulsa event as of Wednesday night while listing several virtual events for June 19.
The Republican National Convention set for August to formally name him the party candidate, though, is clouded by uncertainty because of the COVID-19 restriction, which the state’s Democratic governors has so far not agreed to relax sufficiently for the scale that the party wants for the event.
“The Governor is a little backward there,” Trump said. “And unfortunately, we’re going to probably be having no choice but to move the Republican Convention to another location.”
The massive participation by Democratic Party supporters in the anti-police brutality rallies around the country could insulate Trump from criticism for holding a rally of several thousands.
Although he and his party have been critical of the Republican enthusiasm for loosening the pandemic restrictions, with only 146 days before the November 3 elections, Biden will have to develop a strategy to counter Trump and have high-intensity public events.
He held a public event in Philadelphia on June 2, but with a limited audience, at which he accused Trump of fanning the flames of hate while the nation is jolted by protests triggered by the May 25 death of African-American George Floyd under police custody in Minneapolis.
Biden has been buoyed by the protests with large turnouts that is energising the Democratic Party as its seen as the bulwark against racism.
Trump announced the rally plans at a meeting with African-American leaders supporting him.
June 19 is observed as Juneteenth, a celebration of the abolition of slavery in the US.
Although he did not make any connection between Juneteenth and his Tulsa rally, his speech will be watched for anything he may have to say about the anti-racism protests or about promoting rights of African Americans.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)