There is no doubt that President Donald Trump does indeed have large crowds at his various campaign events. But some of his claims about the sizes of those crowds are lofty at best, and (to borrow his own terminology) “fake news” at their worst.
Indeed, Trump claimed on Tuesday night, as he visited Hershey, Pennsylvania, for a campaign rally many news sites have noted was full of lies and exaggerated claims, that he was speaking in front of a crowd of more people than even former President Ronald Reagan could conjure up in the state.
“In the history of our country, there has never been anybody who drew crowds like we draw,” Trump explained.
“If you took Ronald Reagan and we all like Ronald Reagan, I liked him. I thought he was a great guy. But if he came to Pennsylvania for a rally, you know, if he had a thousand people in a ballroom or something, you know — we’re getting crowds, 25 to 30,000 people.”
Those comments prompted a sharp rebuttal from George Conway, a conservative lawyer who is also the husband to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. He noted in a tweet, citing video of Trump’s claims on Wednesday night, that Reagan did indeed draw bigger crowds than Trump has — four times larger, in fact, in one example, in a Pennsylvania town that’s only two hours away from where Trump spoke Tuesday night.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) December 11, 2019
“Here’s a Morning Call story about President Reagan speaking to a crowd estimated at over 100,000 near Doyleston, Pennsylvania on September 9, 1984,” Conway said, including a link to the story he discussed.
Sure enough, the story detailed how tens of thousands of revelers greeted Regan in 1984 holding American flags. The estimated total for that event was over 100,000 individuals.
For what it’s worth, a Philadelphia Inquirer story about Trump’s rally this week in Hershey estimated that about 10,000 people attended.
Trump has a long history of overestimating his own crowd sizes, and asserting that they’ve been larger than others, particularly his political rivals’. In the first few weeks of his presidency, for instance, Trump administration officials, at the president’s behest, continued to insist that Trump’s inauguration crowd sizes were substantially larger than former President Barack Obama’s were, despite visual evidence to the contrary.