President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday hosted a fraction of the expected supporters. Some of the no shows may have been teenagers who chose RSVP with no intention of attending.
In recent days, people who opposed Trump have been organizing efforts through social media apps like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter to sign up for the rally, sometimes with fake names or Brenner email accounts. The message spread among teenagers, especially fans of Korean pop music, who have recently used their networks for political purposes. Memes in the video sharing app TikTok showed teenagers dancing in front of screenshots of their Trump rally registrations. Many of the posts were tuned to the 1993 tune "Macarena" which caused others to repeat the gesture and make the meme viral.
It is impossible to know how many of the no-shows at the rally are due to the viral effort. Trump had nearly 1 million registrations, well beyond the Bank of Oklahoma Center's 19,000-seat capacity. The president intended to address crowds on a stage outside the arena, but there was no need. Only a few thousand people showed up – a campaign result attributed to "radical demonstrators fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage," said a tweet from Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager.
Nevertheless, the opposition declared victory online. "My 16-year-old daughter and friends in Park City, Utah have hundreds of tickets," wrote Steve Schmidt, a political strategist who worked for President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, on Twitter. "They were rolled by America's teenagers." Other parents' contributions made similar claims.
Elijah Daniel, a music artist called Lil Phag, began days ago to ask his followers on TikTok to reserve tickets and spread the word. On Saturday, he followed Twitter and asked how many would have done so. Dozens replied that they had reserved a couple of tickets, with funny excuses why they couldn't walk – from walking their plants to feeding their stones.
"It's great to see how this generation got up and got so creative in fighting for what they believe in," Daniel said in an interview, praising the K-Pop fans for the idea.
The Trump campaign said registration for the rally did not mean guaranteed entry to the event and no one was actually issued a ticket.
"Leftists always pretend to be smart," said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. "Registering for a rally just means that you answered with a cell phone number. Every rally is a general admission and participation is subject to availability. However, we thank you for your contact information."
It wasn't just young people. Mary Jo Laupp, who calls herself TikTok Grandma, said the rally was "a slap in the face of the black community." She told followers that the campaign was offering two free tickets per cell phone number, and advised people to sign up and then simply reply "STOP" to the text messages. Your post has been liked 704,500 times and shared 135,000 times.
The Trump campaign relies on data from rally registrations to run effective pre-election advertising. On June 14, Parscale tweeted that Tulsa was "the largest data transfer and rally registration ever 10 times". At least some of this data is likely to be ineffective.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)