"A wounded president heading into a combustible (and possibly contagious) situation could very well produce a spectacle unlike any political rally we've ever seen before. If it still happens."
That's was the lead Friday of a Chuck Todd NBC News and Meet the Press story about Donald Trump's planned indoor campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
* Never mind a furiously rising spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases there.
* Never mind that the city's health director continues to urge the president not to come there now.
* Never mind that the arena's request for a detailed plan of the campaign's health and safety measures shows that the campaign will give rally goers temperature checks, hand sanitizer and masks, but it will not require anyone to wear masks. Everyone is required, however, to sign a document promising not to sue the Trump campaign or the venue should they get sick.
More than 118,000 Americans have died now from COVID-19, cases are up in 22 states, and hospitalizations are up in about dozen states. But on Wednesday Trump dismissed concerns, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity: "I don't like to talk about that [COVID-19 treatments and vaccines] because it's fading away. It's going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice, and that's going to happen."
A caller to our office on Thursday posed this question: If the con-man in chief knowingly encourages an indoor crowded rally in a place where COVID-19's rise is already taxing medical facilities and the rally causes further spiking and deaths, is that not at the very least an act of manslaughter?
We leave that to you and voters to ponder. But perhaps you already are.
A CNN poll from the first week of June found Joe Biden with a 14-percentage-point lead over Trump nationally among registered voters. A Fox poll at mid-month found Biden with a 12-point lead.
Trump "refuses to wear a mask, failing one of the most basic tests of leadership," Biden said Wednesday in a speech at a recreational center outside Philadelphia. His event was attended by a limited crowd of about 20 invited guests and reporters.
"He takes no responsibility," Biden continued. "He exercises no leadership. Now we're just flat surrendering the fight. Instead of leading the charge to beat the virus, he's just basically waved the white flag so he can get back to his campaign rallies that will put people at risk. Donald Trump thinks if he puts his head in the sand, the American people will, too. It doesn't work that way."
So, like Chuck Todd, we wonder: What will Tulsa do for Trump, as he ignores all the best advice and even pleas from Tulsa and Oklahoma health authorities? And what will Trump say? We predict we'll hear more of what we've already heard:
* Those polls lie. Trump tweeted Friday: "@FoxNews is out with another of their phony polls, done by the same group of haters that got it even more wrong in 2016. Watch what happens in November. Fox is terrible!" And you likely remember that Trump demanded CNN apologize for its poll. There was no apology because polls are polls.
* He'll continue to sow the baseless conspiracy theory of mail-in voting fraud as the Republican National Committee leads several lawsuits seeking to block expansions of mail voting: "My biggest risk is that we don't win lawsuits," Trump told Politico on Thursday. "We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don't win those lawsuits, I think — I think it puts the election at risk."
* Then there's tired best hits of yesteryear — like Hillary "lock her up" Clinton. We heard that in the Politico interview, too, when he was asked straight up would he accept the results of the election no matter what: "Well, you can never answer the second question, right? Because Hillary kept talking about she's going to accept, and they never accepted it. You know. She lost too. She lost good." No, poor Donald, no. Clinton conceded the day after the 2016 election.
* He'll rant again about immigrants and the wall — and he'll throw in the Supreme Court's DACA ruling this week that handed him yet another defeat. He has already started warming up on that one, too, tweeting Thursday, "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" On Friday, he added, "The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won. They "punted", much like in a football game (where hopefully they would stand for our great American Flag). We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly "
* And there's John Bolton's critical book which indicates that Trump's effort last year to pressure Ukraine to help him win in 2020 was just a one-off of a similar request in June 2019 of China's President Xi Jinping. Trump himself has been silent on this — as of Friday afternoon. But his lawyers are furiously trying to convince judges to block the book's release next week. And, frankly, we think this is what Trump hopes to get out of the Tulsa rally — a Trump-created distraction like he's used for similar sharp stabs at his presidency.
As NBC's Todd and co-authors wrote Friday: "Trump has certainly spent a lot of political capital for a rally in Oklahoma — a state that' not a battleground in 2020 and where many of his diehard supporters could get sick."