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College Republicans “support,” but do not endorse, Donald Trump

| Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Notre Dame College Republicans announced Monday that the group would publicly support Donald Trump in his bid for President of the United States.

Citing Trump’s opposition to abortion, his economic plan and his running mate selection, the club’s statement said Trump, despite his brash personality, “has a certain strength and a particular vision to see that these tasks are accomplished.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a South Bend rally in May.Rachel O'Grady | The Observer

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a rally in South Bend days before winning the Indiana primary in May.

The announcement came after the club’s president, senior Pat Crane, told ABC News the club would be supporting the Republican nominee. Harvard University’s College Republicans and other GOP clubs had recently said they would not endorse Trump.

But Crane said the Notre Dame College Republicans’ statement also did not constitute an “endorsement,” which he defined as agreeing with all of a candidate’s views. They instead chose to “support” Trump, acknowledging that not all members backed him or his views.

“Endorsing would mean that we, as a total organization, are fully aligned with the candidate . . . Supporting means that we will provide any aid we can to the candidate, while the entire organization may not fully agree with the candidate,” Crane said.

While the club’s officers wrote and released yesterday’s statement, vice president Dylan Stevenson said the officers and some members decided at a club meeting in April to support the as-yet-undecided Republican nominee.

“We made a conscious decision as a club to support whoever that nominee was, and at the time it was uncertain as to who that might be,” Stevenson said. “But we made that conscious decision . . . so we kept that promise to our members in mind, and when we compared the policies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, we came to the conclusion that we could very much keep that promise.”

The Notre Dame College Democrats responded on Facebook today to the College Republicans’ statement, saying it was “unsurprising but nonetheless disappointing to see them embrace a wholly unqualified and dangerous presidential candidate.”

The College Democrats had endorsed Hillary Clinton last month in conjunction with the College Democrats of Indiana. That group’s joint statement said Clinton “will fight to make progressive change a reality” and focused primarily on criticizing Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Co-president Grace Watkins said the club had debated the issue during the spring semester, hearing from supporters of both Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but she and fellow co-president Andrew Galo, both seniors, made the decision to endorse Clinton when a consensus emerged over the summer. Watkins defined endorsement as publicly supporting and campaigning for a candidate.

“I think that we made the decision to endorse because we felt we were strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton, and we also expect a public endorsement, along with the cycle itself, to drive participation up,” Watkins said.

For both clubs, endorsing or supporting their party’s nominee means galvanizing support and encouraging members to become more involved in national and local campaigns this fall.

“We’re focusing on programming on the messages of inclusivity and effecting change on the local and federal levels, so in practice that means connecting students to opportunities involving candidates including Hillary Clinton, as well as to local races.” Watkins said. “… In addition, we’re planning meetings for members to debate and present issues they’re interested in.”

Stevenson said College Republicans would work on behalf of Trump, as well as in local races.

“We plan on being involved in as many of those campaigns as possible and helping members get involved in the campaigns they care about. We understand that not everybody’s going to be on board with Donald Trump. … But we want to make sure that everybody at Notre Dame who cares about individual and economic liberty — there’s a place for them in the Republican Party.”

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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  • buster01

    I am astonished that there are Notre Dame students that support Trump.

  • Annette Magjuka

    I am beyond horrified that educated young people could support Trump in any way. I am so disappointed in the ND College Republicans.

  • djkmann

    Three marriages, a ban on an entire religion, overt bigotry, thinly veiled racism, belittling those who served this country, disgusting attacks on the families of those who sacrificed their lives for this country, mocking the disabled… I’m having a very difficult time identifying the “Catholic values” that the ND College Republicans say Trump embodies.