NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23, Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn discussed the roots of conservatism and claimed that President Donald Trump, at least in his rhetoric, has stayed true to it.
Arnn spoke about the first principles that define conservatism, namely that all men are created equal and that governments are instituted to secure the liberties of all individuals. He argued the administrative state is the greatest threat to this equality and liberty, but he said he believes Trump will fight against it.
“What I’m trying to conserve and also restore is those original arrangements — the best in human history,” Arnn said of the Constitution.
Last week, 45 Hillsdale students attended CPAC with the Hillsdale College Republicans, where many heard from conservative leaders, including Trump; saw protests; and encountered the alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer.
Shortly after Spencer entered the convention hall at CPAC, security guards escorted him out of the building.
CPAC spokesman Ian Walters told National Public Radio that CPAC officials ejected Spencer from the conference because he was perceived as a disruptive force.
“A major event like CPAC should be open to sharing ideas and debating one’s opponents in a civilized way,” Spencer told The Collegian. “I purchased a ticket and acted in a polite and courteous manner, and many journalists and attendees alike were interested in my ideas. Those who initiated my expulsion had the perfect opportunity to challenge those ideas but chose to ban them instead.”
Before being escorted out, Spencer watched Arnn address the conference around 10 a.m. Spencer criticized Arnn on Twitter, saying Arnn was a “nice gentleman” but that his “fuddyduddy” approach was insufficient because “we live in revolutionary times.”
Spencer missed Trump address the conference about 24 hours later.
Trump spoke to a full-capacity crowd Friday morning, reiterating his commitment to campaign promises on policy, while fueling his feud with the media.
“One by one, we’re checking off the promises we made to the people of the United States,” Trump said. “We will not stop until the job is done. We will reduce your taxes, we will cut your regulations, we will support our police, we will defend our flag.”
Geraldine Davie, 76, from Virginia — who lost her 23-year-old daughter in the terror attacks on 9/11 — complimented Trump’s position on ISIS and found the “vintage Trump” speech to be the perfect balance of entertainment and information.
“That morning altered my life forever,” Davie said of 9/11. “I have not seen anybody in this country stand up to radical Islam like this president, and he is to be commended for that. I will follow him and make sure he stays on that trajectory and keeps us citizens safe.”
About 20 demonstrators stood outside the conference and protested Trump and his policies, while the president spoke.
The group came from Prince George’s County Democrats, said the group’s leader, Jessica Semachko, 33, from Mitchellville, Maryland. The demonstrators criticized Trump’s immigration policy and his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“We heard on Tuesday that President Trump was going to be speaking at the CPAC conference, and we felt it was important that people from the community shine a light on the real Trump agenda of militarized immigration raids, repeal of healthcare — the impact that will have on our community,” Semachko said.
On Friday afternoon, just hours after Trump spoke, Hillsdale College partnered with Facebook, the Leadership Institute, and Townhall Media to hold a mixer for millennials.
“We are all part of encouraging the younger folks here to dream big and to help each other and support each other because what they do and who they are are what make this country great.” Townhall’s external relations director Amanda Muñoz said.