New York’s District 21 representative Elise Stefanik travelled to Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday to speak at the controversial Trump rally that his campaign championed as the official opening of the president’s 2020 reelection bid. Stefanik joined Trump congressional surrogates Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Tom Cotton among others at the event.
Stefanik’s fierce support for Donald Trump has become a campaign issue as the congresswoman seeks reelection. Neither Stefanik nor her campaign responded to a request for comment by Glens Falls’ The Post Star on the content of her rally speech or on rally health concerns. Stefanik is running for reelection against Democratic challenger Tedra Cobb.
The rally was roundly attacked by health officials, some within the Trump administration, for rejecting CDC coronavirus containment recommendations against large crowds in enclosed spaces. Rally attendees were provided face masks but not required to wear the protection during the event. News accounts from the rally report that few did.
The Trump campaign announced yesterday that six Tulsa rally advance team members tested positive for Covid-19.
The president’s event faced additional scrutiny for racial insensitivity at a time when racial discord tears at the country. The Greenwood Massacre, the turn of the century murder of hundreds of blacks, happened in Tulsa. The original date for the president’s rally, June 19th, is celebrated by blacks as an important day in the emancipation of black slaves.
Since arriving in Congress in 2015, Stefanik has become a fierce Trump ally. She, with Nunes and Jordan, became the face of his defense during last fall’s House impeachment. Stefanik was the weekend guest of the president at Camp David in May as a reward for her loyalty.
The Tulsa rally drew fewer than 6,200 attendees according to a Tulsa Fire Department spokesman this morning. The BOK Center, the rally venue, holds just over 19,000. The Trump campaign had claimed distribution of one million event tickets. Overflow crowd events planned by the campaign were canceled and the outdoor overflow stage was dismantled as the rally began.
An article appearing in Forbes yesterday suggested that Stefanik could replace Vice President Mike Pence as Trump’s 2020 running mate as the president’s polling among women voters plummets.