‘We can’t have another four years of Donald Trump’: TikTok grandmother who disrupted president’s rally reveals she is working for Joe Biden

High school employee from Iowa will work to ‘amplify pro-Biden messages and build engagement’

Andrew Buncombe
Sunday 28 June 2020 01:10
Crowd goes wild as Donald Trump successfully drinks a glass of water

The “TikTok grandmother” whose viral video post helped disrupt a Donald Trump rally and infuriate the president, has revealed she is formally putting her digital skills to work for Joe Biden.

A week ago, Mary Jo Laupp, 51, posted a video on the site in which she urged people to reserve seats for the president’s controversial Tulsa rally and not show up. A large number of people apparently took up the suggestion, resulting in a much smaller crowd at the Oklahoma event than the Trump campaign had been anticipating.

The White House angrily denied that the post by Ms Laupp, along with spoof reservations by K-Pop fans who seized on the idea, had impacted the event, which had been criticised for failing to promote social distancing at a time when coronavirus infection were soaring.

“Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work,” Mr Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement.

Now Ms Laupp, a musician and who works in the music department at the high school in Fort Dodge, Iowa, has revealed she has agreed to put her skills to work for the Democrats’ presumptive presidential challenger.

“It’s called the digital coalition, and it’s focusing on using social media as a campaign tool,” Ms Laupp told The Independent. “I’m specifically working with a team that’s targeting young voters. And so we’re focusing right now on TikTok. They’ve also talked to me to take a look at Instagram.”

The New York Times, which was first to report on Ms Laupp’s decision to work in support of Mr Biden, said she would be part of the so-called Biden Digital Coalition, a grass-roots organisation of around 100 people that seeks to “amplify pro-Biden messages and build engagement on social media”.

It said while it is not an official part of the former vice president’s campaign, it is in contact with its staff members.

Joe Biden rages at Trump over Obamacare and coronavirus

“Clearly, something she had done had worked out really well, so we wanted to harness that energy,” Caitlin Gilbert, a coalition co-director, told the newspaper.

The coalition is part of a belated attempt by the Biden campaign to compete with Mr Trump on social media platforms. Earlier this spring, the campaign asked volunteers to apply to join the coalition, aware that the president’s reach and spending on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook was vastly greater than that of Mr Biden.

Onetime rivals such as Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have been urging people to help.

Ms Laupp said she had spent much time on social media and elsewhere, educating herself about issues, and had decided the nation could not handle another Trump term.

“Right now, all of the poll numbers show [Mr Biden’s] in the lead. And I’d like us to keep that momentum going,” she said.

“I don’t know that we can handle another four years of a president who mocks everybody who’s not exactly like him – to have a president who tries to run the country like you’re trying to run a company.”

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