Donald Trump was in a bad mood until he arose for a speech in Arizona last week.
TV and social media coverage revealed that the site of his campaign rally, the Phoenix Convention Center, was significantly less than full. Waiting in a room with a television monitor, Trump was displeased, 1 person familiar with the episode said: TV optics and audience sizes are extremely important to the president.
As his surrogates warmed up the crowd, the expanse of shiny concrete finally filled in with cheering Trump fans. But it was too late to get a Trump aide, George Gigicos, the White House director of advance who’d arranged the event as a contractor to the Republican National Committee. Trump later had his security aide, Keith Schiller, notify Gigicos that he’d never handle a Trump rally again, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Gigicos, among those four political aides to the president, declined to comment.
By his standards, Trump was remarkably strident in Phoenix. After introductory speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, lauded him for his commitment to racial harmony, the president came on stage and lambasted the press for what he called reporting in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Anger and Threats
He threatened to shut down the government unless Congress funds construction of the Mexican border wall he promised in his campaign. He telegraphed that he’d pardon Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of defying a court order to prevent racial profiling. And in their home state, he assailed Arizona Senator John McCain for the failure of Obamacare repeal and Senator Jeff Flake for being “weak” on illegal immigration, without mentioning their names. Both are fellow Republicans.
Gigicos had staged the event in a large multipurpose room. A dividing wall bisected the primary floor space, leaving part of this space empty. There were some bleachers off to the side, but otherwise the crowd was standing — and the scene appeared flat, lacking enthusiasm and the energy of rallies.
Even though the crowd looked thin when Trump arrived at about 6:30 p.m., rallygoers filled in the space whilst Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Alveda King, Franklin Graham and Pence delivered introductory speeches. A city of Phoenix spokeswoman told the Arizona Republic newspaper that about 10,000 people were inside the room when Trump took the stage.
Trump’s first words when he stepped to the microphone: “Wow, what a crowd, what a crowd.”
Some Trump advisers hope that the president’s anger with Gigicos, a aide who’s well liked at the White House, blows over and he’s brought back into the fold. A week later, Trump was still reminiscing about the Phoenix event.
“You saw the massive audience we’d,” he said at a White House news conference on Monday with Finland President Sauli Niinisto. “The people went mad when I said, ‘What do you think of sheriff Joe? ’ Or something to that effect. ”
Gigicos organized all of Trump’s signature campaign events and his occasional rallies since entering office. He left his White House job of advance as & #xA 0; manager on July 31 to return to his consulting company. But he continued to work for Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Over the past two years, Trump had frequently assigned the blame — rightly or wrongly — to Gigicos when his rally logistics weren’t ideal. But his irritation usually blew over quickly. When his microphone had problems at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, in January 2016, Trump bellowed: “The stupid mic keeps popping! Do you hear that, George? Don’t pay them! Don’t pay them!”
Gigicos is the latest death from Trump’s circle. Since July 21, press secretary Sean Spicer, Chief of Staff Reince Priebusstrategist Stephen Bannon, and national security aide Sebastian Gorka have all resigned or been terminated. Former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’ tenure lasted less than two weeks.
Two advisory councils comprised of corporate CEOs dissolved after Trump’s Charlottesville opinions, and the White House severed ties with billionaire Carl Icahn, a Trump adviser.