Trailing in the polls and in fundraising, Trump clings to one marker as a sign of success — crowd size

www.washingtonpost.com
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The president has disregarded the pandemic dangers to stage large rallies as a show of strength and an ego boost after months of campaign stumbles.
Trump has returned to the campaign trail with gusto after battling the novel coronavirus, holding daily rallies with thousands of supporters at airport hangars, including events in recent days in Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. In doing so, the president is again flouting warnings from doctors — including Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government's top infectious-disease expert — about the potential health risks of large groups gathering with little social distancing and many eschewing face masks.

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For Trump, however, the rallies are a show of strength and an ego boost after months of stumbles, during which former campaign manager Brad Parscale was demoted in part over his management of a rally in Tulsa at which turnout was far below projections.

"Can you believe how many people are back there?" Trump asked a crowd Friday in Ocala, Fla., after disembarking Air Force One, which remained parked just beyond the stage for a dramatic flair. Pointing toward reporters, Trump said: "You want to turn the cameras around to show — that is a lot of people here today. They never report that."

For Trump, a former reality television star, the size of the audience has long been paramount, a measurement he believes foreshadowed his 2016 upset victory over Hillary Clinton and one he consistently touts as evidence that the pollsters and pundits who are increasingly pessimistic about his reelection chances are wrong again.

During his debate with Biden — whose campaign has featured smaller groups of supporters, with more adherence to coronavirus safeguards — Trump said mockingly: "Nobody shows up to his rallies."

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By contrast, he added, "We have tremendous crowds, as you see, and literally on 24 hours notice." He boasted of crowds of 35,000 to 40,000, although the actual count has appeared far smaller. His campaign declined requests to provide attendance figures.

On social media, the president and his allies have flooded their feeds with panoramic photos…
David Nakamura
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