Home Campus President Trump’s reelection campaign visits Ohio U to encourage voter registration

President Trump’s reelection campaign visits Ohio U to encourage voter registration

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President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee trained Ohio University students Wednesday evening to organize and register voters prior to the 2020 presidential election.

The event — coordinated by the Ohio College Republican Federation and the Ohio University College Republicans — attracted nearly 50 students to Copeland Hall. Students learned about how they can help Trump win next year’s presidential election from representatives with Trump Victory, a joint effort between the president’s reelection campaign and the RNC.

The training session was the third of four scheduled “Make Campus Great Again” events held this week at universities across Ohio — the first state the campaign targeted for the program.

Nearly 50 people attended the “Make Campus Great Again” event in Copeland Hall. Photo by Sarah Horne

The Trump campaign spoke to students earlier this week at both the University of Akron and Ohio State University. Students at the University of Cincinnati will hear from the campaign Thursday evening.

The RNC plans to extend the program to universities in other states, said Mitch Freckleton, national Trump Victory director of youth engagement.

Freckleton asserted during the lecture that Republicans should work to replicate former President Barack Obama’s widespread national voter registration drive in 2008, which Freckleton said “changed the game.” The campaign employee also mentioned the importance of Republicans connecting with diverse coalitions of students in states like Ohio.

“I know a lot of stereotypes say we don’t belong talking to these African American groups or these hispanic groups, but the point is we have a message to bring to them and we have to be there,” he said.

Eva Holtkamp, an Ohio U student and president of the College Democrats of Ohio — the governing body of the Ohio U College Democrats — recently drew ire from The Daily Wire, a conservative publication, over a statement she made about the Trump campaign visiting universities in Ohio.

“From siding with for-profit colleges to attacking Title IX protections the Trump Administration is working consistently to attack the interests of college students,” Holtkamp said in the statement. “Students know that Trump is bad for our future, which is why youth voter turnout across the country jumped in 2018.” 

Freckleton acknowledged Holtkamp’s comments and disagreed with her during the lecture.

“I see a great room of people here who think we have every right to be on this campus, every right to voice our opinion on this campus, and every right to get our fellow students engaged and involved in the process,” he said.

The College Democrats of Ohio has been registering college students to vote for decades, Holtkamp said in a statement to The New Political. She cited state Republicans’ efforts to purge people who hadn’t cast a vote in Ohio for several years from voting rolls.

“Our Democracy is stronger when more people participate,” Holtkamp said. “But especially in the state of Ohio we have seen time and time again that elected Republicans are working every day to disenfranchise voters.”

The president of the Ohio U College Democrats, Meah McCallister, said in a text message that her organization does not welcome Trump, or any members of his administration to Ohio U.

“Having the Tump administration present is, frankly, a slap to the face for everything this organization stands for,” she said. “We stand for inclusion for all, something this administration blatantly does not.”

Freckleton explains the Trump campaign’s goals. Photo by Sarah Horne
Students learn about voter registration techniques. Photo by Sarah Horne

Most training session attendees were members of the Ohio U College Republicans, but several people not affiliated with the group attended the event, said Kailey Gentner, president of the Ohio U College Republicans.

“When I walked in I saw about five or six new faces,” she said. “Especially for our chapter exclusively doing this recruiting, we had an amazing turnout.”

Trump beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Ohio by 8% of the vote in 2016, but he lost Athens County by 17%.

Sarah Horne contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include comments from both Meah McCallister and Eva Holtkamp.

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