Classic rock music, red Make America Great Again hats, and Republican leadership punctuated President Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, for conservative youth.
The rally — the president’s second since the COVID-19 flu outbreak — began with Donald Trump Jr. lauding his father’s “tough” stance on China and taking issue with Black Lives Matter protests.
“That’s why it’s so awesome for me to see young people like yourselves in this room here and engaged,” Trump Jr. said. “They are doing what they can to silence you. They are doing what they can to oppress you. They are doing what they can to intimidate you,” Trump Jr. said to the hall of students at the Dream City Church.
“But you don’t have to be. You can go out there and do what’s right, you can go out there and fight for your country,” he said.
Tuesday’s event was assembled for members of Students for Trump (S4T) and its parent organization, Turning Point Action.
The youth vote is expected to make a major impact on the 2020 election. That voting bloc — a combination of millennials and members of Generation Z — has outgrown the older baby boomer generation in potential votes.
The crowd was estimated at 3,000 young conservatives who are part of S4T and supporters of the president’s reelection. Broadcast and streamed online, the rally’s only camera shot focused on who was talking on stage.
Rep. Matt Gaetz just spoke to a packed house at a "Students For Trump" event in Phoenix. I spy 4 people with masks on from crowd shot. Arizona health officials say ICU beds, ventilators, impatient beds, cases all just reached new daily highs. pic.twitter.com/hERQa1URBy— Eric Shackelford (@ABC7Shack) June 23, 2020
Students for Trump — founded in 2015 by Campbell University students Ryan Fournier and John Lambert — aims to reelect Trump in 2020 and is and “fueled by freedom,” according to S4T’s website.
In July 2019, the movement was acquired by Turning Point Action, a nonprofit that espouses conservative positions. Later in 2019, S4T became “the official chapter-based, pro-Trump student group on hundreds of college and high school campuses across America,” according to its website.
There are 47 million 18- to 29-year-olds who are eligible to vote in the 2020 election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Fifteen million of them have turned 18 since the last presidential election, according to CIRCLE.
“You guys keep doing what you’re doing, stay engaged, stay in the fight,” Trump Jr. said near the end of his speech. “Get out there, do it, keep fighting, I promise you we’ll be back in the action again.”
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk also spoke.
“Now is the time for courage, now is the time for all of our young students out there to fight like we have never fought before,” Kirk said. “Now is time for us to say … that our country is the greatest country to ever exist in the history of the world.”
He introduced Trump as “God Bless the USA” played in the background. As the song ended, the crowd chanted “USA” in a cheer to the president.
“I’m thrilled to be in Arizona with thousands of patriotic young Americans who stand up tall for America and refuse to kneel to the radical left,” said Trump.
Trump reminded the young crowd to vote for him in November and to speak up against mail-in ballots.
Jack Bishop, a student from North Carolina State University, took to the podium to express his fears about “conservative censorship,” which he said was “happening all across the country, all the time.”
“It’s our duty as conservatives to stand up and to fight for our rights and to fight for our nation and to fight for our guy,” Bishop said. “We’re going to win this election, we’re going to take back the House, we’re going to keep the Senate and we’re going to get four more years of the best presidency of my lifetime.”
Those watching the rally online expressed their comments in sidebars and on social media.
“Honored to watch the next generation of American patriots,” tweeted Twitter user @Tiffany_Shedd. “I am awed by your courage, convictions, and love of America. @TrumpStudents #GodBlessAmerica”
“Growing up, my idols were either Ronald Reagan, or George H.W. Bush, Teddy Roosevelt, or F.D.R. … as these kind of all embodied the ideas of statesmanship and what I understood a president to act like,” said self-described conservative Preston Brailer in a video for @Republican Voters Against Trump. “They didn’t allow their egos to get in the way of creating a more perfect union,” he said, describing the leaders he admired.
“President Trump goes counter to pretty much everything I just said. … He generally, from what I gather, serves to sow division at every turn in order to galvanize his base. I personally don’t think our country will be at its best, nor do I think it will be allowed to heal and kind of recover from the political discourse and division that we suffer from all too often today.”
Young conservative @PrestonBrailer (CA) knows Donald Trump is not fit to be president— Republican Voters Against Trump (@RVAT2020) June 24, 2020
"I don't think our country will be at its best, nor do I think it will be allowed to heal ... from the ... division that we suffer from ... until President Trump is out of office ..." pic.twitter.com/drKc2ZETkK