Jerry Springer left behind the catfights and confessions of his popular TV show when he swung by the Panera Bread on West Lane Avenue Thursday afternoon to talk politics with Ohio State students.
The former Cincinnati mayor and host of “The Jerry Springer Show” focused on the upcoming 2016 election during the Columbus visit, which was organized by the OSU College Democrats.
The stop was part of a larger Ohio tour, in which he aims to emphasize the importance of voting and engage the Democratic base.
During the hourlong meeting, Springer touched on topics ranging from his support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump’s campaign and U.S. economic inequality.
“Our burden, our responsibility is to make sure that government exists to provide services to protect people — not just from physical violence but from economic violence, from social violence,” he said.
Springer was critical of conservative opposition to raising the minimum wage, supporting early childhood education and cuts to government services, or “tightening the belt” on government spending.
“We have to not always be thinking about how we’re going to ‘tighten the belt,’ when the ‘belt’ inveritably gets tightened around the necks of middle- and lower-income people,” he said.
Springer said although he agrees with stances taken by Democratic candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, he fully supports Hillary Clinton, adding that Sanders’ far-left position will cause a stalemate with what Springer expects to be a Republican-dominated Congress.
“I can’t imagine anyone being better prepared to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton, in history,” he said, excluding incumbent candidates. “Even if you like someone else more, it’s not as if she would ever be against your values.”
He said that in his mind, there is no doubt Clinton will win the primary, barring another scandal coming to light, even with strong support for Sanders among younger Democrats.
Springer was also critical of candidate Donald Trump and stances opposing U.S. immigration.
“It’s doomsday. It’s not just another Democratic-Republican election,” he said. “We need someone in the White House who is going to stop this right wing because it’s just so un-American. How can you be American, and in the next breath say you’re anti-immigration?”
Springer, a first-generation American, added “the reason Republicans are having trouble with Donald Trump is he’s the face of the Republican Party. He says it in ways that are embarrassing, but his views are exactly what the Republican Party believes.”
David Stanislav, chairman of the OSU College Republicans and a third-year in chemical engineering, said he thinks that although Trump has found support among Republicans, he hardly represents the Republican Party.
Stanislav added that Republicans are focused on rewarding hard work, reducing debt and reducing government dependency, also saying the median income has sunk under Obama’s presidency.
“I think it’s a very common refrain from the Democratic Party,” he said. “The Democrats want to assert that Republicans are trying to create this divide between the classes, and I just think the facts don’t support that at all.”
Rob Kaufman, a third-year in behavioral neuroscience and psychology, said he was struck by Springer’s attention to economic equality in the U.S., in spite of his wealth and success.
“He serves as a great example for anyone who comes across riches or anything of that nature,” he said. “The fact that he fights for other people is very empowering.”
Jake Vasilj, political director of the OSU College Democrats and a second-year in political science, said Springer reached out to them with the proposal to speak to OSU students, adding that the group feels Springer has the ability to motivate students to vote in upcoming elections.
“We think Jerry Springer gives us a really good message about why liberalism is practical and why liberalism is the best governing strategy,” he said. “We were very excited to have him, and we think he’s a great speaker and great person for the party.”
Although the London-born, long-time Democrat doesn’t have any presidential aspirations, he joked about the concept while drawing similarities between himself and Trump, both having wealth and histories in television.
“Imagine a presidential election with Donald Trump and Jerry Springer,” he said as students laughed. “There would be trouble at the border, again. But this time it would be because everyone is trying to leave. They’d have to build a wall to keep people from running out of the country.”
Springer also visited the Rambling House Soda Pop brewery on East Hudson Street on Thursday for an event with scheduled guests that included Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and several Ohio state representatives.