After months of presidential candidate and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump’s inflammatory insults, Penn for Trump has finally had enough. The organization dissolved last month after founder and Wharton freshman Patrick Lobo decided to no longer support Trump as a presidential candidate.
The decision came shortly after Trump, who is known for his many extremely controversial comments, called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States because they “have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” The announcement, , was the latest in a string of Trump comments that Lobo found difficult to swallow.
Lobo, who established Penn for Trump in September, was originally attracted to the Trump campaign for its policy platform — specifically Trump’s proposed tax plan — which he felt was more realistic and moderate than policies proposed by other candidates. He believed that, as president, Trump’s policymaking would not be as drastic or radical as the ideas he presented as a candidate. But however strong Trump’s policies were, his bombastic demeanor and harsh rhetoric became an inevitable source of concern.
“It was just always hard to publicly align with some of the comments that he made,” Lobo said. “It got more and more difficult to say that I support someone who could say some of the things that he did say.”
Doubt about Trump’s suitability had been building up for a long time when Trump made his Muslim travel ban announcement. Lobo said it was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
“Once he goes to insulting a massive group of people’s religion, that’s not something I can align with,” Lobo said.
Lobo had previously been in contact with the Trump campaign for funding and official recognition. The campaign, however, did not get back to him until shortly after he had decided to abandon the Trump camp. He had originally planned to spend the fall semester building a membership base before starting regular club functions in time for the presidential primaries, which begin in February. The group’s Facebook page had 63 likes when it was deactivated in late December. Alternatively, the satirical Penn for Trump Facebook page currently has 98 likes.
The group faced hostility from many Penn students after it was created, including from a joke “Penn for Trump” Facebook page that was also created early last semester. Lobo said he was not discouraged by the backlash and did not take anti-Trump reactions to heart.
Lobo doesn’t expect someone else to start a new Penn group supporting Trump. When this group disbanded, it had four active members.
“I think it’s pretty much done at this point,” he said.
When asked if he thought Trump could actually win the Republican Party nomination, Lobo noted that it’s still too early to know for sure. Despite the near-endless fallout from his repeated inflammatory comments, Trump has remained a GOP front-runner. In the latest poll from Quinnipiac University released Jan. 10, Trump tops GOP polls with the support of 31 percent of Republicans in the important electoral state of Iowa, whose Republican presidential caucus takes place on Feb. 1.
With the end of his involvement with Trump, Lobo plans to refocus his political engagement on campus with the College Republicans and the Penn Political Union.
He noted that Penn for Trump encountered relatively little hostility from right-leaning Penn students even though several groups supporting other, less controversial Republican candidates already existed.
“The right-wing students generally, regardless of which individual they support, respect that because there are so few students at this school who are conservatives,” Lobo said.
Lobo has not decided if he wants to support another Republican candidate yet, noting that it is still relatively early in a historically unprecedented election cycle that has already been prone to unexpected changes in polling data. He does, however, have a general idea of candidates he won’t support, such as Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
“There are a few that are almost too conservative for me and too far right socially,” Lobo said.
Even though Penn for Trump has officially disbanded, Penn is still home to active groups supporting Republican candidates Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, as well as Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.