Say hello to Penn for Trump, the latest pro-candidate group to establish itself on campus.
Founded just two weeks ago by Wharton freshman Patrick Lobo, the group is still in the process of getting the word out via Facebook and drawing in membership. Though Donald Trump is an alumnus of Penn, his support group has been slow in the making, compared to other groups that already exist to support Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
“I like how Trump is straight up and says what he means without using the Washington filter,” Lobo said. “There’s a lot of negativity around him because people are looking for a reason to be offended. They’re scared of him because he is leading in many polls and has a bigger following than expected.”
Lobo expects the group to grow, pointing out that the Facebook page already has around 30 likes and that a few people have reached out to him to join the executive board.
“Yes, Penn is a largely liberal campus, but we can definitely pull from the remaining conservatives who aren’t supporting other candidates,” Lobo said. “Once people realize that the media is purposely denigrating Trump and take a closer look at what he’s actually saying, and as he becomes a more realistic candidate as he advances along, they’ll switch over.”
College senior and College Republicans President Will Cassidy takes a more moderate stance on Trump. “Whether or not you support a particular candidate, it’s encouraging that there’s so much excitement for the Republican primary,” said Cassidy, adding that the College Republicans will throw its support for a candidate only once the primary is over.
Lobo acknowledges that the group has obstacles to overcome as it moves forward. For one, the real Penn for Trump group lacks campus presence and gets confused with the joke Penn for Trump group on Facebook. The joke group is currently leading in popularity with 74 likes.
Also, Penn for Trump will not receive SAC funding, as new groups need to apply months in advance to get funding for the school year. Lobo plans to reach out to local Trump support groups to get the necessary funding.
Perhaps the biggest challenge ahead is the potential backlash against the group, as Trump is a largely controversial candidate. For some students on campus, the establishment of a pro-Trump group has been a surprise, and they openly express their dislike.
“The launching of a Penn for Trump group, to quote President Obama’s comments on another issue, ‘would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so sad,’” said College senior Sean Foley, president of Penn Democrats. “Donald Trump is a corrosive force in American politics, a ‘know-nothing’ of the 21st century who denigrates immigrants, veterans, women and countless others. And his success speaks volumes about the extremism that controls the Republican Party.”
Lobo says, however, that he will not be phased by any negative reactions.
“Other groups don’t have a right to be getting upset,” Lobo said. “People are free to have their own political views, and despite everything, Trump has established himself as a possible front-runner.”
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