Donald Trump reportedly axes loyal aide over patchy crowd at Phoenix rally

George Gigicos reportedly told he would never manage a Trump rally again after president voiced displeasure at visible gaps in the audience

Donald Trump once used a presidential primary debate to offer assurance that there was no need to worry about the size of his hands or, indeed, his manhood. “I guarantee you there’s no problem,” he told the audience.
But there is a problem over the size of his crowds.

The US president has reportedly dispensed with a loyal aide after his campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Arizona, last week was less than full.

With TV cameras showing gaps on the concrete floor of the Phoenix Convention Center, Trump watched on a backstage monitor with growing displeasure, the Bloomberg agency reported.

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In fact, as speakers including vice-president Mike Pence and housing secretary Ben Carson fired up the audience, most of those gaps were plugged, even though supporters had to run the gauntlet of protesters outside the venue.

“Wow, what a crowd,” Trump began. “What a crowd.” There were 10,000 people in attendance, according to city officials, although some did filter out before the end.

George Gigicos, a former White House director of advance who had organised the event as a contractor to the Republican National Committee (RNC), bore the brunt of Trump’s wrath, according to Bloomberg. He was told he would never manage a Trump rally again by the president’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller, who in May hand-delivered a letter from the president firing FBI director James Comey.

The president made headlines at the Phoenix rally with his fierce attacks on the media, threat to shut down the government over funding for his border wall and tease about a pardon for sheriff Joe Arpaio, which he delivered three days later.

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Bloomberg reported that Gigicos has organised all of Trump’s signature campaign events and occasional rallies since entering office. Gigicos left his White House job as director of advance on 31 July to return to his consulting business. But he continued to work for Trump’s re-election campaign and the RNC.

But CNN suggested that Gigicos may not be finished, reporting: “’George will be back,’ one source familiar with the matter said, noting that Trump’s angry tirades are ‘not uncommon’. ‘This is what (Trump) does. He tries to get under your skin.’ ‘It wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t the worst thing I had ever seen,’ another source said.”

Trump appears to feed off the energy of rallies and the roar of the crowd. He has already held eight, in eight different states, since becoming president, a rate of more than one month.

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Like a diva with a list of demands for their dressing room, he insists that every detail is just right. In Pensacola, Florida, in January last year, he complained about the “son of a bitch” who installed a faulty microphone, adding: “Do you hear that George? Don’t pay him. Don’t pay him. And you gotta be tough with your people because they’ll pay, they don’t care. They’ll pay.”

On Tuesday, surveying the havoc wreaked by tropical storm Harvey in Texas, Trump emerged from a fire station in Annaville, Corpus Christi, between two fire trucks and got up on a ladder. There were some cheers and chants of “USA! USA!” and he could not resist remarking: “What a crowd, what a turn out.”

He then held up the Texan flag to loud cheers. Most of the crowd were supporters, but not all, according to a pool report. One banner read, “Liar, cheat, racist” another read “Latinas against Trump”, and another “You pardoned Joe, what about Jose?”

Should a dispute arise over the size of this crowd, Trump will no longer be able to deploy Sean Spicer, who as press secretary in January berated reporters over their coverage of his inauguration, claiming it had the biggest turnout ever, even though photographic evidence showed otherwise. Spicer quit last month.

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