President Donald Trump plans to hold rallies every two weeks of his presidency, something that political science experts say would be largely unprecedented.
“Great crowd, great people, great spirit. We’re going to do these rallies every two weeks,” Trump told a reporter Wednesday night after a rally in Nashville, Tenn. The president already has a rally scheduled for Monday in Louisville, Ky.
Trump’s rally Wednesday was his second since taking office, and was supposed to focus primarily on the White House-backed health care bill that is currently stalled in the House. Trump, however, did not speak only on the health care bill and spent time attacking the Hawaiian federal judge who blocked his executive order on refugees for “judicial overreach.” He also at one point attacked Hillary Clinton and the crowd chanted “lock her up.”
Eric Ostermeier, who authors University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog, told The Daily Caller it is “unusual for Donald Trump to be holding this many rallies this early in his presidency, particularly outside of the campaign cycle.”
He said that while President Obama gave remarks at more than 150 rallies, just about all of them were for his campaign or that of another Democratic candidate. The first rally Obama delivered while in office was on July 16, 2009 and was for New Jersey’s Jon Corzine re-election campaign.
“Of course, presidents sometimes do hold rallies outside of the campaign cycle for particular policies,” Ostermeier said. “Bill Clinton held one on April 8, 1994 at a rally for health care reform in Minneapolis.”
Trump’s first rally was not for a particular policy, and while his second one did focus on health care, the president did touch on several other issues.
Geoffrey Skelley, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told TheDC, “If President Trump actually holds large campaign-style rallies every two weeks or so throughout his presidency, there would be no obvious precedent.”
“Previous presidents have gone on public tours, but not for the entirety of their presidencies. For example, Woodrow Wilson went on a national tour to promote the League of Nations, which faced opposition in the U.S. Senate, but he collapsed during the tour and suffered a stroke after getting back to Washington,” Skelley added.
He did say, “it’s important to consider that most presidents did not have the ability to fly to a location, give a speech, and then fly back to Washington over the course of just a few hours.”
His chief strategist Steve Bannon has previously spoken about how Trump is able to circumvent the media, who they view as the “opposition party,” and connect with voters through rallies.
“He went around to these rallies, but those speeches had a tremendous amount of content in them, right? I happen to believe, and I think many others do, he’s probably the great public speaker in those large arenas since William Jennings Bryan,” Bannon said last month.