Mercedes Schlapp, senior adviser for the Trump-Pence campaign, told “Fox News Sunday” that protesters had “an impact in terms of people coming" to President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday.
Schlapp made the comment responding to the fact that there were a number of empty seats on the upper levels inside the arena at Trump’s first campaign rally in months.
In advance of the Saturday event, Trump supporters had been lining up for days to secure their seats in an arena that holds just under 20,000, and the Trump campaign touted Monday receiving over 1 million ticket requests. Still, on Saturday several seats were noticeably empty.
Several media outlets, including CNN and MSNBC, were quick to point out that Trump failed to fill the arena, despite expectations of a packed house.
“When it comes to understanding how the rallies work, it's a first-come, first-served basis,” Schlapp said.
She went on to say that what is “important is to understand — and I had this with my own personal family who lives not far away from Tulsa, that they were concerned. There were factors involved, like they were concerned about the protesters who were coming in.”
Schlapp said protesters were blocking entrances to the area “and so we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally.”
On Sunday campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted a photo of what he said was the “main gate of the rally,” which was blocked by protesters, and wrote on Twitter, “Sure no blocked gates @cnn. @cnn if you think families with children will push through this your [sic] sick. America, this is the country @cnn is ok with, think about that.”
Schlapp noted on Sunday that “over 5.3 million people watched it [the rally] on all of our digital media channels and so the reach was far and wide and that doesn't even include the TV numbers.”
“We also did a pre-rally show and that was over two million views so we're living in a virtual time as well,” she added.
Host Chris Wallace then said, “The fact is the president talks about the attendance at his events, as we all know, he made a big issue of the attendance at his inauguration. He talks about how he can fill an arena and that Joe Biden can't.”
“He didn't fill an arena last night and you guys were so far off,” he continued.
He also noted that he spoke with Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith, who was at Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, and Meredith said protesters did not stop people from coming there.
“The fact is people didn't show up,” Wallace said.
“Oh, absolutely they did,” Schlapp said in response.
“I'm telling you, there were people and families that didn't want to bring their children because of concerns of the protesters.”
“But let me make this clear,” she continued. “I mean, Joe Biden has an event with empty folded chairs and painted circles on the floor. I'd love to see a Joe Biden rally. Let's bring it on because there is no comparison.”
Wallace interjected saying, “Mercedes, please don't filibuster.”
“We're showing pictures here and it shows big, empty areas,” Wallace said. “Frankly, it makes you guys look silly when you deny the reality of what happened.”
Schlapp said, “We're not denying the reality of what [happened.]”
“I'm going to say this again, the president went out to talk directly to the American people, to talk about the failed record of Joe Biden,” Schlapp added.
“The fact that Joe Biden has been a career politician that has done nothing, but only supported failed institutions. This is in contrast with President Trump who has a strong record and is focused on rebuilding this economy.”
Wallace then accused Schlapp of “shifting to a campaign speech, which has nothing to do with the attendance of the rally.”
“There is no enthusiasm for Joe Biden,” Schlapp said, before Wallace moved on to discussing the results of the latest Fox News poll, which showed President Trump trailing Biden by 12 points.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality, more voters see Biden as empathetic and respectful, according to the poll.
Fifty-three percent believe Biden respects racial minorities vs. 35 percent who say the same about the president.
Among black voters, most say Biden respects racial minorities (79 percent), while most think Trump does not (86 percent).
As protests continue since George Floyd’s death on May 25, a 61 percent majority disapproves of how Trump is handling race relations (32 percent approve).
Wallace pointed to those findings on Sunday saying “by wide margins, people in the Fox poll think that Joe Biden respects racial minorities and President Trump does not.”
“I don't know how that's even possible because … if you want to see the record of Joe Biden, it's one in which he proudly embraced segregationists,” Schlapp said in response.
She went on to say that the former senator “did not provide any significant change for the black community, in fact, he supported mass incarceration when it came to supporting the 1994 crime bill.”
“This is in complete contrast to President Trump, who has been focused on uplifting the black community,” Schlapp continued. “Just this week he [Trump] signed an executive order on the police reform, where in essence he's ensuring that these police departments implement these best practices and they get incentives for this.”
Wallace then brought up the fact that a State Department official reportedly resigned last week over President Trump’s response to racial tensions sweeping the country.
The Washington Post reported that Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, the first black woman in the role, said in her resignation letter that President Trump’s “comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”
“I wish that Mary Elizabeth would listen to the president's speech following the tragedy of George Floyd's death where he said healing, not chaos, where he called for justice, where he brought in community leaders from the black community to speak with them, to listen to them,” Schlapp said in response.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson, Dana Blanton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.