Some of Penn's College Republicans are doing something unexpected — voicing their support and even campaigning for the Democratic nominee for president.
College Republicans Executive Director and College senior Matt Shapiro said he is planning to vote for Hillary Clinton, not because of Republican nominee Donald Trump's recent scandals, but just from a policy standpoint.
“When [Trump] first got the nomination, I was planning on voting for him,” he said. “However, I looked more and more at his polices. I looked at his stances like isolationism … [which] I strongly disagree with … [and] wanting to punish women who got abortions, which, whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, just sounds vile.”
Trump actually clarified this position a few hours after making it, as CNN reported. He released a statement in which he said women who obtain abortions are the victims and that doctors who perform the service should be punished.
But Shapiro also took issue with Trump’s comments concerning minorities and women. “Talking that way about other human beings doesn’t befit the office of president. [And] the whole xenophobic vibe about him … [like] his polices … just don’t represent the Republican Party or conservative values.”
Although Shapiro said he “[doesn’t] see eye to eye with [Clinton] about all her policies,” he plans to vote for her to take the strongest measure against a Trump presidency.
“Voting for Hillary Clinton is my way of clearing my conscious the most by knowing I did what I could to keep Donald Trump out of office,” Shapiro said.
But another College Republican is taking his support of Clinton to still higher extremes. The College Republicans' Chief of Staff and Wharton sophomore Owen O’Hare, is now volunteering with the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania.
“Trump is so bad, it really is a necessity to support Clinton. [But] I do agree with a number of Clinton’s policies,” O’Hare said. He noted his approval of Clinton’s stances on most social issues, namely gay marriage and abortion, as well as her positions on immigration and foreign affairs. He also endorsed what he considers Clinton’s moderate fiscal policy.
“If you are a budget-hawk … and you look at Clinton’s tax plan … it is much less extreme than Bernie Sanders’ … and much closer to being deficit neutral than Trump’s,” O’Hare said. “Trump kind of has a few things in there, like tax cuts, but they don’t add up at all … So from that standpoint [Clinton’s] probably more aligned with Republican fiscal thinking than [Trump].”
But O’Hare’s primary motivation for supporting Clinton is not a specific campaign proposal, but instead, his approval of her character. Despite some reservations about some of the scandals she has been involved with, including using a personal e-mail server while secretary of state, O’Hare still evaluates Clinton as the much more emotionally and ethically sound candidate.
“I mean, there are some things that concern me,” O’Hare admitted. “But if there was something really [illegal] that happened, the House special committees [or FBI] would have found it. … So [my backing of] Clinton is … based on her temperament.”
O’Hare and Shapiro’s support for Clinton is not universal among College Republicans. Some members of the group have remained resolutely loyal to their party’s nominee.
“This is possibly the most emotionally charged election in decades,” College freshman Dominic Gregorio said. “So … I took a step back from the emotions … and logically determined which candidate has the most policies that approximate [my own]. And that was Donald Trump.”
Gregorio explained how he agrees with many of Trump’s specific healthcare and foreign policy proposals. Gregorio also favors Trump as the candidate he thinks would best uphold the Constitution.
“[Trump] will nominate a constitutionalist to the Supreme Court, which is important to me. Also, he will no longer [require] a religious test for immigration … so he’s more closely aligned with a constitutionalist’s views [than Clinton],” Gregorio said.
Trump said at the second presidential debate that he has amended his call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the United States to a policy of "extreme vetting" from areas associated with terrorism, USA Today reported.
Gregorio defended his support for Trump even in the midst of Trump's most recent scandals, including 11 women coming forward with allegations of his inappropriate sexual behavior. Gregorio cited the legal presumption of innocence. He said Trump hasn’t been proven guilty of any crime.
“Just as Hillary Clinton hasn’t been convicted and we assume her to be innocent, Donald Trump hasn’t been convicted, so we must assume him to be innocent," he said.
Despite their diverging opinions, pro-Clinton and pro-Trump College Republicans agree on at least one matter — how to choose which candidate to support. All three members urged their fellow Penn students to ignore party loyalty and emotion, and to allow logical analysis to govern their vote.
“Everyone has to make their own decision about who lines up with their views and who they should vote for,” O’Hare said. “And as long as they’re doing it because they agree with what that candidate stands for and what that candidate will do, then that’s okay.”
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.