Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited Kennesaw State University Monday, Sept. 12 for a town hall meeting on behalf of the campaign for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The university rooms in the Carmichael Student Center were packed to the doors as both KSU affiliates and off-campus community members crowded in to listen to Gingrich’s espousal of Trump and his response to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that half of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables.”
“People want jobs, people want dignity, people want a sense of a better future, and so I think [Trump] will work very hard on that,” Gingrich told the crowd.
The former Georgia representative took the the opportunity to defend Trump against Clinton’s accusations that he and his supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic,” criticizing the left’s accusations of bigotry of as manifestations of its inability to articulate its arguments.
“They have to use nasty words because they can’t win a debate, and they have to lie because they can’t defend their reality,” Gingrich said.
He also highlighted concerns about Clinton’s honesty, citing the Justice Department’s investigation of her private email servers and her role in the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
“Don’t think of this as Hillary in isolation,” he said. “This is Hillary as the personification of a long period in which liberalism gets further and further out of touch with reality, and liberalism’s last defense is dishonesty.”
After his address, Gingrich took questions from the audience regarding specific stances Trump has taken on issues like urban poverty, violence, affordable college tuition, voter fraud and racial tensions.
In response to one student’s question about Trump’s plan to make college affordable, Gingrich cited the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri as an example of an efficient education model. The work-study college employs students in on-campus jobs in lieu of charging tuition.
“Some of you who are students may actually find it kind of horrifying,” Gingrich said to the room, full of mostly non-students. “It means actually having a job and showing up regularly.”
He also touched on the possibility of having a position in a Trump cabinet, saying it was reasonable to believe he might have more influence in a Trump administration than a Clinton administration. Gingrich was one of three possible running mates Trump considered before he ultimately selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The event, hosted by the KSU College Republicans, drew students of diverse political affiliations, though there were relatively few students present in comparison to the number of off-campus attendees.
After the town hall, several students cited concerns that they were not properly notified of the event beforehand.
“We did not finalize the event until Friday afternoon,” KSU College Republicans President Gilbert Fernandez said in an email response. “Our organization did our best to advertise the event on our social media as well as many local newspapers. The political science department also did their best to advertise the event through Facebook.”
Trump won the majority vote in every Georgia county in the Republican primary in March except for four — Cobb County being one.