On Wednesday, Nov. 13, NC State students and local community members applauded President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020 at Turning Point USA’s Culture War tour. Charlie Kirk and NC State alum Lara Trump, wife of Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, addressed and reflected on the president’s past success as well as plans for the future.
Approximately 800 individuals were in line for the event, according to Tim Hogan, director of Student Centers, and hundreds filled the Mountain Ballroom to capacity in Talley Student Union.
Attendees cheered as Kirk, soon followed by Lara Trump, took the stage and immediately condemned the protestors gathered outside. Kirk continued by offering praise to Jack Bishop, a first-year in exploratory studies, in regard to the alleged assault that occurred on Monday, Nov. 11, condemning the “socialist thugs” who spray painted him and thanking Bishop for standing his ground.
Lara Trump discussed Donald Trump’s many accomplishments during his current term, citing record-high stock market performance, the lowest unemployment rate in U.S. history and an increased median income as examples. Attendees cheered as Lara Trump questioned why the United States should move backward in terms of development.
“We have somebody fighting for us in the White House, so with all the prosperity, why would we want to just turn that around?” Lara Trump said. “Why would we want to pay for all those who don't want to work? Why would we divide up all of our hard-earned money? Because we are not crazy, that’s why.”
Throughout the address, Lara Trump emphasized Donald Trump’s sincerity and dedication to his job as president, while denouncing the role the media plays in molding public perception of him.
“It’s a coup against the president,” Lara Trump said. “That is what's happening right now. The reality is, 2016 Donald Trump was never supposed to win. Nineteen minutes after being elected president of the United States, the story started about, ‘How can we impeach this President?’
Sharpe Newton, third-year studying agricultural business management and political science, said he was excited to hear Kirk speak at NC State and hoped his presence on campus would spark bipartisan dialogue and reduce stigma on campus.
"I just think it's pretty cool that we can have someone like Charlie Kirk come on campus, because I think he really promotes dialogue from everybody,” Newton said. “His big thing is free speech, and I do think there's a stigma on college campuses that if you don't agree with someone, then you can't be friends or you can't have a conversation, and I really enjoy seeing something where it's okay for you to be wrong or disagree, but we can still have that conversation.”
Jakob Sealock, a first-year studying engineering, agreed with Newton.
"It's interesting hearing other people's points of view, that's for sure,” Sealock said. “It might not always agree with mine, but I just want to hear what people have to say."
At the end of the event, attendees were offered the opportunity to ask Kirk questions directly. A number of individuals voiced their questions and concerns about the current administration; however, the majority of questions remained substantially unanswered by Kirk, leaving a number of participants frustrated.
Lara Trump and Kirk spent a great deal of time distinguishing those in attendance, “us,” from those on the left, “them.” This narrative was especially prominent in terms of capitalism versus socialism and their respective success as economic models. According to Lara Trump, the socialist model is clearly not working, as members of previously communist nations such as Venezuela are now immigrating to the United States.
“When have we ever seen, Charlie, people from communist countries … come out and say, ‘You know what? Let's implement that system here,” Lara Trump said. “You don't hear about it because they all came to America, because the system works. Capitalism works, and it benefits people all across the board.”
Prior to the start of the Culture War event, hundreds of people gathered with the No Hate at NC State coalition in a protest that lasted several hours, beginning at Wolf Plaza and eventually making its way inside Talley Student Union.