For years, Charlie Kirk — a conservative activist and the executive director of Turning Point USA — has been crying out about the purported censorship of conservative voices on college campuses.
The campus left used to fight for free speech. Now they fight to silence speech and silence other opinions!
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 2, 2017
It's funny how the left becomes champions of free speech when someone disrespects America
Conservative comes to campus?
They shut it down
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) September 27, 2017
Got heated today after my speech today at Colorado State University
Had ANTFIA, disgusting white-nationalists, and hundreds of protestors outside event
Why free speech is awesome: these handful of radicals screamed at each other while hundreds of students filled our event! pic.twitter.com/HrurGK2ox3
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 3, 2018
Kirk is also a big fan of President Trump. During a Fox & Friends appearance in December, he said that “if a Democrat president achieved a fraction of what President Trump has done, this last year, they would call it historic and they would call it breathtaking.”
On Thursday, Kirk was at the White House to moderate a forum event about young entrepreneurship and other issues of interest to millennial Republicans. Trump dropped by, and Kirk had the opportunity to ask his hero some questions. At one point Kirk teed one up about the free speech crisis on campuses that has become his life’s calling.
“It’s harder than ever to espouse support of your presidency and the ideas that you’re fighting for,” Kirk began. “So thank you for what you’re doing to give us the courage of our convictions to fight against political correctness. But what advice do you have for young patriots and conservatives on campus that support your agenda that are being ridiculed and silenced because of administrations that are clamping down on free speech?”
Trump, however, didn’t take Kirk’s bait. Instead, the president indicated he thinks that the problem Kirk is working to solve is “highly overblown,” because in actuality he has “tremendous support” among college students.
“I think the numbers are actually much different than people think,” Trump said. “I think we have a lot of support. If they have one campus or two campuses, and we know what they are, it gets all the publicity. We have campuses where you have a vast majority of people that are perhaps like many of the people in this room, you could call it conservative, you call it whatever you want, but there are people that want free speech.”
“If you look [at] what’s going on with free speech, with the super-left, with Antifa, with all of these characters — I’ll tell you what, they get a lot of publicity, but you go to the real campuses and you go all over the country, you go out to the Middle West, you go out even to the coast in many cases, we have tremendous support,” Trump continued. “I would say we have majority support. I think it’s highly overblown. Highly overblown.”
Kirk, unwilling to push back against his hero, simply said “I totally agree” before moving on to another topic.
While Trump might believe he’s popular on college campuses, polling does not back him up. A biannual Harvard of Americans ages 18 to 29 conducted last fall pegged Trump’s approval rating with that demographic at 25 percent — down 7 points from when that same poll was conduct in the spring of 2017.
Notably, the Harvard poll indicated Trump isn’t even particularly popular even among young Republicans. Two-thirds (66 percent) of Republicans 18 to 29 said they approve of Trump, down 12 percent from the spring of 2017 poll.
Even though Trump dismissed Kirk’s question about a speech crisis on campuses, there appears to be no hard feelings. After the forum ended, Kirk tweeted that “it was a great honor to interview [the president] about student issues and the amazing success of this administration.”
“The accomplishments are historic, fixed the trajectory of America, and are beginning the process of turning this country around!” Kirk added.
Trump retweeted Kirk, adding that participating in the forum was “My honor.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018