President Donald Trump falsely claimed at Tuesday’s presidential debate that there has been “no negative effect” from the campaign rallies he’s held for thousands of attendees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had no negative effect. We’ve had no negative effect,” Trump said, adding a boast that “we’ve had 35, 45,000 people at these rallies.”
Herman Cain, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and tea party activist, was diagnosed with COVID-19 less than two weeks after he attended Trump’s June 29 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cain died on July 30 at age 74. Since Cain’s death, his family has continued to operate his Twitter account to praise Trump and spread falsehoods, even insisting that the coronavirus is “not as deadly” as the media says.
The Tulsa Health Department also recorded a surge in cases a little over two weeks after the event at the city’s BOK Center ― which housed roughly 6,000 attendees despite Trump boasting a million people had registered to attend. A top health official said the event was likely the source of the spike.
This month, Trump hosted an indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada, breaking state laws and earning a sharp rebuke from the governor, who has banned gatherings of more than 50 people since May. Guests were seen without masks and not socially distancing at the event. His outdoor events have appeared to similarly flout public health guidelines.
Critics slammed the president’s careless remark as they pointed to the fate of his former ally.
Trump: We had no problem with Covid at my rallies— Janelle James (@janellejcomedy) September 30, 2020
Herman Cain's Twitter: Tell em Donald!
Trump: "We've had no problem whatsoever" with big rallies.— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) September 30, 2020
Herman Cain died of COVID-19 after attending one. #Debates2020
“So far we’ve had no problem [Trump on Covid at his rallies].”— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) September 30, 2020
Herman Cain unavailable for comment
"We've no ill effect from our rallies." Herman Cain would like a word. #Debate2020— shauna (@goldengateblond) September 30, 2020
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.