On Thursday at the Columbus Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was welcomed by a predominantly millennial crowd of approximately 450 people.
Amid the outbursts of “lock her up,” opinions on political correctness and one moment of booing the media in the back of the room from the audience, Trump focused much of his speech on the issues of student debt and available jobs for college students after graduation. The excited audience responded to his agendas with roaring applause.
Trump claimed that the debt accumulated under the Obama administration was large enough to pay off all outstanding loans in America six times over. He told the crowd that a Trump administration would work every day to to “make America great again” for millennials and solve the student debt crisis. He promised to hold colleges accountable for “skyrocketing” tuitions.
The business tycoon introduced his plan for an income-based repayment program for student debt that he said he will cap at 12.5 percent interest.
“Students should not be asked to pay more of their loans than they can afford. And it should not be an albatross that is around for the rest of their lives,” he said. “I will make sure students have the information they need … for repaying student loans so you can do it and you can do it very easily.”
Concerning the job market, Trump discussed domestic companies outsourcing jobs and hiring lower-income workers in roles that belong to educated college students. In an appeal to young voters, former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani declared millennials as an integral factor in making America a great country, rather than just another country.
Trump said he would create 25 million new jobs through several policies including energy initiatives and trade regulation, and there would be a 4 percent growth per year in the private sector.
“It’s a tremendous threat, the outsourcing of jobs for college kids,” he said. “We want great jobs, not good jobs, great jobs.”
In the past week, multiple audio files of Trump discussing women — including one where he bragged about his ability to kiss women because of his fame and another in which he suggested the sexual assault of a female reporter — were leaked. An article from The New York Times then surfaced with multiple occasions of Trump groping one woman and kissing others unprompted. He addressed those claims saying that he was falsely accused of the encounters and he has no recollection of the incidents.
“It’s a disgrace,” Trump said, regarding the article. “I’m getting battered by people I don’t even know.”
Third-year Ohio State law student Madison Gesiotto — a columnist for the Washington Times, 2014 Miss Ohio pageant winner and a Trump supporter — said that when she heard the leaked audio, she was offended.
“There are no double standards here, whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, a Republican or a Democrat, everybody should be held to the same standard,” Gesiotto told The Lantern. “So, of course, I was disgusted with these comments but I don’t think (the comments) represent who Donald Trump is, and my experiences with him, personally, on the multiple occasions I have met him have been the complete opposite from what these comments reflect and what many stories in the media reflect right now.”
Gesiotto began the event with a speech that discussed policies during the Obama administration when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. She referenced Clinton’s plan as president for a $1.3 billion tax increase, which Gesiotto claimed would put 300,000 people out of jobs. She ended her speech by saying that Trump is ready to work for college students and all millennials.
“For millennials right now, we have a student loan debt system that is a mess. I am a third-year law student. I have six figures’ worth of student loan debt, and it’s been accumulating at a 6 percent interest rate since the day I stepped into my law school. It’s unacceptable,” she said. “Our government is making an exorbitant amount of money off of our student loans whereas they should be seen as an investment into our future … What good is a free education if we don’t have a job after graduation?”
Christian Franceschi, fifth-year in civil engineering at OSU, was at the event and said that Trump’s speech exceeded his expectations.
For Franceschi, it was his first time seeing Trump in person, which he hoped would sway his vote one way or another. Admittedly, Franceschi said he wouldn’t choose Trump or Clinton to be president at the moment, so he was looking for clarity from the Republican candidate as well as somewhat of an apology over his leaked 2005 comments.
“It’s not something you can just shake off,” Franceschi said. “For him to have people not afraid to support him, he has to be more clear with what he wants. I think he’s so popular right now is because he is who he is. Being an angel or not, he’s being real and he needs to play on that. He needs to be like, ‘I’m not the perfect person, but I am a human.'”
The speakers who came before Trump, especially Giuliani, emphasized the importance of the Ohio vote. Trump referenced polls from The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC that have him leading by 1 percentage point over Clinton. However, considering the margin of error, the race for Ohio is a dead heat. Giuliani also said that tariffs have to go both ways for imports and exports for the United States in order to create jobs for millennials.
Also in his appeal to college students, Trump addressed political correctness on campuses. He promised to end political correctness and enforce “free and respectful dialogue.”
At the end of a speech that lasted roughly half an hour, Trump concluded with a reassurance for his millennial supporters.
“If we win we’ll create a booming and thriving economy for Americans and jobs for young Americans,” he said. “A vote for me is really a vote for you. Together we will make America so strong, so powerful, so rich, we will make America great again.”