On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a stop at the Columbus Convention Center for a town hall meeting where he covered topics including American job loss, campaign funding and the media in his speech to supporters.
David Stanislav, a fourth-year in chemical engineering and chairman of College Republicans at Ohio State, which had representatives at the event, said that he sees it as important for members of College Republicans to stand behind Trump.
“A lot of people obviously supported other candidates, but right now I think the most important thing for the club and for the party is to unite behind a candidate and support all those people from top to bottom of the ticket who are running as Republicans,” he said.
Though Stanislav expressed a desire of party unity, the only elected Republican official who participated in the event was state representative Andrew Brenner. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton —whose party is also facing questions of unity— had congressional Rep. Joyce Beatty and former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Rob Portman, at her rally on Sunday.
Ahead of the speech and again on stage, Trump claimed thousands of people were turned away from the event, expressing frustration with the fire marshall for not letting more people into the space.
Jim Cannell, chief of the Columbus Division of Fire, who was onsite for the event, told The Lantern that it is only safe to let in 1,000 people to the area used for the event, and they are required by law to abide by this safety precaution. He added that the number of people allowed in — which is decided by number of available exits — could have been larger if it weren’t for the construction inside the convention center blocking off some of the area.
Before the presidential candidate spoke, he invited two people who worked at a uranium-enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, onstage. The pair blamed President Barack Obama for not keeping a promise to save the plant, which began laying off workers in February of this year.
Throughout the hourlong town hall meeting, the idea of keeping and creating more jobs in the United States and not outsourcing them to Mexico was emphasized multiple times, prompting a chant of “Build the Wall” from the crowd on one occasion.
“We want Mexico to do fine, but we’re not going to let them take our jobs anymore,” Trump said.
With that, Trump said he also plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
As one of his opening remarks, Trump took a jab at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary will be nothing more than four more years of Obama, four more years of ISIS, four more years of a military that’s been depleted and is not taking care of our vets,” he said.
He also expressed concern for the high suicide rates and lack of health care for veterans, both problems he said he wants to fix.
Trump further criticized Clinton regarding her campaign funding, saying that his personal contributions to his campaign keep him from being influenced by his donors.
“She’s going to do right for her donors, I’m going to do right by you,” Trump said.
During his speech, Trump also took the opportunity to criticize the media outlets, calling The New York Times “totally dishonest” and saying that CNN stood for “Clinton News Network.” He added that the Washington Post has “been doing better” since its press credentials were revoked, and Fox has been fair.
Stanislav said he believes the media is biased.
“Media in general is biased left, and there are news sources that are unbiased or even right-leaning,” he said. “I think that’s definitely an issue in the election and it’s something that needs to be brought to the forefront. I definitely admire Trump for bringing the issue up of media bias.”
Nick Davis, a third-year in natural resource management, founded OSU’s chapter of Students for Trump, a group independent of College Republicans that started in May. He said he hopes the group will provide a space for students to express support for Trump without ridicule.
“It’s almost a taboo thing to not only be a Republican on a college campus, but to support Trump,” he said.
About 40 minutes into the speech, Trump took three questions from the audience which covered topics of the Affordable Care Act, regulations for small businesses and heroin. He said that he plans to repeal and replace the healthcare law, cut down on regulations and taxes for small businesses and cut off the source of heroin by, again, building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
Both Stanislav and Davis heard Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Davis said he also saw Trump speak in Columbus in March and Cincinnati in July.
“I’m glad that the candidates have been spending a lot of time in Ohio,” he said. “I think a lot of people will be annoyed by it, but it’s good for people around our age to see the political process.”
Trump ended the event with a promise to come back to Ohio.
“I’ll be back so much you’ll be sick of me,” he said. “Nov. 8, you have to go and vote. We got to win this election, this is a big one and Ohio is a very important state.”