The Pitt News

Trump campaigns in Oakland

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Eva Fine | Multimedia Editor

Eva Fine | Multimedia Editor

Eva Fine | Multimedia Editor

By Josh Ye and Danni Zhou / The Pitt News Staff

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his plan Wednesday to appeal to student voters in Oakland: “I will offer you jobs.”

In Trump’s first Pittsburgh campaign appearance, Sean Hannity taped his interview with the presidential hopeful for “The Sean Hannity Show” 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Oakland, focusing on his plans for winning the presidential race and subsequent presidency.

In the town-hall style meeting at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, Trump spoke about defeating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and his plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to a crowd of about 24,000 supporters and protesters.

While some audience members found his plans inspiring, others came to oppose the candidate.

As hundreds of Trump supporters chanted, “Build a wall,” inside the event, seven students were escorted out after they stood up and yelled, “F*** Donald Trump.”

Hannity didn’t want anyone — including the hundreds of people outside chanting, “Black lives matter,” and holding anti-Trump signs — interrupting the show.

“If you are a protester, you are not getting in,” Hannity, a Fox News host, said at the event. He did not make it clear how security would determine who was protesting.

For the supporters, such as Julie Matali from Butler County, the rally confirmed their positive view of Trump. Matali agreed with Trump’s goals to provide more jobs for Americans, build the wall separating the United States and Mexico and taking down ISIS.

“I actually didn’t decide to vote for him until last month. He’s not part of the establishment, and that’s what I like most about him,” Matali said. “America needs a change. Once he wins, I strongly believe he will make a great president.”

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During the show, Trump said his successes have surprised him, but he boasted about the states he originally did not think he had a foothold in but ending up winning anyway, including South Carolina and Florida.

Hannity continuously asked Trump about Clinton, only mentioning the other candidates briefly.

When he asked Trump if Clinton was his biggest competition and how he would beat her if they each got the respective nomination, Trump said he’s confident that she’d be easier to beat than his current Republican rivals.

In response, an audience member stood up and held a shirt that read, “Hillary for Prison 2016” — Trump glanced at the supporter and carried on answering the question.

“I don’t think [Hillary] has the strength or stamina to be president. She’s totally controlled by special interest,” Trump said.

Trump outlined some main goals that he would implement as president: guarantee students will have jobs waiting for them after college, make the United States an energy-independent country “very quickly” and crack down on undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico.

“People who have come into this country — sadly, they have to go. We have no idea who they are,” Trump said.

Trump said countries such as China and Mexico are taking advantage of the U.S. economy and that “China is dumping steel all over the place.” He said companies are moving to Mexico, supplanting U.S. jobs.

He got the most reaction from the crowd when he mentioned his infamous proposed wall between the United States and Mexico, and when he promised to defeat ISIS.

“Our enemies are open to torture,” Trump said. “What’s wrong with waterboarding them?”

During commercial breaks, Trump supporters filled the aisles, trying to snap pictures of Trump with cellphone cameras and Snapchat filters. A grassroot conservative advocacy group, Make America Great, gifted Trump a “Hillary for Prison 2016” T-shirt. Trump opposers remained silent. 

Lauren Hall, a sophomore molecular biology major, attended the event to experience a Trump rally as a black woman, and said the experience confirmed her negative view of Trump supporters.

Hall said the people at the rally supporting Trump seemed misguided, or at least unsure about why they support Trump.

“I talked to a mother and daughter after the event. They claimed they support Trump because they own a business and Trump is a businessman. They never explained why,” Hall said. “The reasons of Trump supporters all seem to be very much at the surface level.”

Outside Soldiers and Sailors, supporters and protesters began lining up at about 8 a.m. either to get seats for the show or express their opposition for Trump.

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Students began planning protests on Monday afternoon after Trump announced his visit to Pittsburgh. On Tuesday night, Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement Kathy Humphrey sent an email to the Pitt community warning of a group that planned to “openly [carry] firearms in a demonstration of their commitment to the Second Amendment.”

Although no one appeared with firearms, Hannah Gaskill and Kira Melville, two female college students, who chose not to tell The Pitt News what school they go to, showed their bare breasts with heart-shaped tape covering their nipples to combat the anticipated violence with love.

“If they are allowed to tout guns and express hate, we are allowed to tout tits and express love and concerns,” Gaskill said.

Melville added, “Which is scarier? My chest or your AK-47?”

Melville and Gaskill said the crowd responded with nasty and derogatory terms, telling them to put clothes on and that they would send their picture to a magazine.

John Kennick, a senior English and ecology major at Pitt and a participant of the Love Trumps Hate campaign that The Fourth Wave and Fossil Free Pitt Coalition organized, said he spent most of the morning sparking conversation with crowd members.

“People are here to express pro-Trump sentiments,” Kennick said, “We are just here to stand for our opinions.”

Sarah Stauffer, a member of Campus Republicans at Washington and Jefferson College, said although she has not made up her mind as to who to vote for and came to the event mainly “for the experience,” she would stay loyal to her party nominee.

“All of his ideas are interesting,” Stauffer said. “I don’t necessarily agree with him. But he’s getting the conversations started at least.”

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Trump campaigns in Oakland