On Monday afternoon, Republican front-runner and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump held a rally at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa., roughly 40 miles outside of Philadelphia.
Speaking about an hour from campus, Trump spoke briefly about his alma mater.
Trump expounded on how he “knows Pennsylvania” after attending the Wharton School 48 years ago. “I loved Penn,” he said. “Wharton is the best business school in the world. It’s one of the hardest to get into.” He insisted he would win Pennsylvania in not only the primary, but in the general election and that he “wants to run against Hillary.”
Thousands of students and supporters arrived hours early for the best seating in WCU’s gym, and were met outside on lawn spaces by protesters loyal to Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as by others in the small town who simply wanted to experience the momentous event.
This mixed collection of people symbolized the mixed attitudes of West Chester students about having such a controversial political figure visit their school.
“There’s definitely been a mixed mood about this on campus,” said WCU junior James Kesge, who does not support Trump. “We don’t like that we as students weren’t asked how we felt about having Trump on campus, but we can’t miss the opportunity to see such a talked-out person and we know it means a lot for the school to have someone so important visit.”
Young, passionate Trump supporters swarmed the main floor of the gym, forming a sort of “student section” directly in front of the podium. Many of the students donned the iconic red caps with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again,” printed across the top, along with other Trump paraphernalia and patriotic garb.
On numerous occasions, the crowd chanted, “Build that wall,” a reference to Trump’s promise to reinforce the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigration seems to be a crucial issue for these young voters.
“Why should I pay taxes and my hard-earned money to pay for immigrants? They shouldn’t have social security,” said Kaylee Plisitski, a sophomore at nearby Cabrini College. “Liberals don’t understand how hard I work. I’ve had a job since I was 15 and am paying my way through college. Lots of people feel this way.”
When Trump finally emerged to give his address, he too seemed adamant about addressing immigration from Latin America. “We want people to come to this country, but we want them to come legally,” he repeated in variations throughout the rally.
Trump was also vocal about his political opponents. Instead of firing off at Democratic candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), he focused on Republican adversaries Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — no coincidence in light of Pennsylvania’s upcoming Republican primary.
Speaking of the recent Cruz-Kasich alliance to stop Trump from reaching a majority of delegates before the Republican National Convention, Trump said, “How pathetic is it when they use collusion. How weak does it make them look?” Trump currently leads with 46.6 percent of the Republican vote in PA.
In terms of his potential to hold the highest office, Trump seems not only to believe he has the leadership capability for the presidency, but also that he has the image: “Look how handsome I am. Don’t I look presidential?”
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