Trump's Georgia Rally Sees 'Smallest Crowd' in State Since 2016: Reporters
Former President Donald Trump's Georgia rally on Saturday failed to draw the number of supporters he has been accustomed to in the southern state, according to multiple journalists covering the event.
Trump held the event in support of several of Georgia's Republican primary candidates in Commerce, Georgia, which is about an hour drive northeast of Atlanta. While the former president has regularly seen tens of thousands attend his events in the state, as well as other states across the country, journalists assessed that the crowd size was underwhelming this weekend.
"I've covered more than two dozen Trump rallies around the nation. This is the smallest crowd I've seen at a rally of his in Georgia since he won the 2016 election—significantly smaller than the crowd in Perry in September," Greg Bluestein, a political reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted.
Stephen Fowler, a political reporter at Georgia Public Broadcasting, shared a similar assessment.
"It's almost time for Trump to speak here in Georgia and there's probably no more than 5,000 people here, the smallest Trump rally I've ever covered here. Way less than the Perry rally in 2021 (closer to 10k) and nowhere close to 2020's 20-30k+," the journalist wrote in a Twitter post, sharing photos as well.
Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington disputed the journalists' assessments in a Sunday morning email to Newsweek. "This is totally false. Well over 20,000 were in attendance," Harrington said. In a second email she added: "Official estimates are between 25,000 and 35,000 people."
Trump issued a similar statement on Sunday morning as well. "We had a massive crowd last night in Georgia, but as usual, the Fake News Media absolutely refuses to show it," the former president said. "People are estimating 25,000 to 35,000 people."
Newsweek contacted local police to ask for their estimates of the crowd size, but did not immediately receive a response. Trump supporters on social media described the crowd as "massive," "huge" and "fired up."
Fowler also reported that people in attendance began "streaming out" even as Trump was still speaking. "People keep leaving during Trump speech. It's cold and windy and there's not much enthusiasm," he wrote. He also shared photos from different times during the event, showing that the venue got emptier as the former president spoke.
The journalist's comment about "enthusiasm" seemed to be backed up by a correspondent for Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) ahead of the event. As the correspondent, Mike D. or "Mikenificent," interviewed people lining up to attend the rally, he commented live: "Alright, not as much energy from the crowd as I was hoping for, but we're happy that you're tuned in."
Bluestein shared a video clip that also appeared to back up what Fowler reported. In the clip, rally attendees can be seen leaving as Trump is speaking. "Folks are starting to file out," the journalist tweeted shortly after 9 p.m. ET.
During the event, Trump doubled-down on attacks against Georgia's Republican leaders. The former president pressured the southern state's GOP leaders—Governor Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan—to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory in the state, but they declined to assist in the effort. Those controversial actions by Trump remain under investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
"If Brian Kemp is renominated, he will go down in flames at the ballot box," Trump told the crowd. The former president has endorsed former GOP Senator David Perdue, who is running against Kemp in the May 24 primary.
In a statement emailed to Newsweek on Saturday evening, Kemp spokesperson Cody Hall did not address questions about Trump's attacks directly. Instead he asserted that the incumbent governor is "focused on making sure [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Stacey Abrams is never our governor or the next president." Abrams, who previously lost to Kemp in 2018, has repeatedly said that she aims to be president some day.
Ahead of the event, Duncan, who is not seeking reelection, told ABC News that Trump is "out to settle a score." The Republican official said "that's no way to keep conservative leadership in power."
Trump continues to baselessly claim that Georgia's 2020 election results were fraudulent, despite multiple audits and recounts reaffirming Biden's narrow victory there. Those reviews were overseen by Raffensperger, who voted for Trump and donated to his campaign. Despite supporting the former president, the Republican secretary of state has strongly pushed back against his allegations that the results were tainted. Kemp similarly declined to support Trump's efforts to overturn Georgia's election results, as did Duncan—drawing the former president's ire.
This article was updated with Trump's statement about the crowd size.