From Twitter to a national movement: Meet the chair of ‘Students for Trump’
He’s received death threats
Ryan Fournier is the founder of “Students for Trump”, an organization for students who campaign for and support Donald Trump for President. We spoke to Ryan about his organization:
How and when was Students for Trump founded?
The organization was founded in early October of 2015. Initially it was just myself and a Twitter account. My goal was to post stuff that had a student spin on it and attempting to get other students involved. Once the page grew from hundreds to thousands of followers in a month, we were told by a campaign intern to expand our operations and start a ground movement. At this point, I reached out to friends for assistance and got little interest. Most of them were supporting another candidate and believed Trump was not worthy.
John Lambert was the one student who was very interested in helping me take this to the next level. John comes from a business background, having started and managed a company while also attending school. He was more than qualified to help me, so I hired him as my Vice Chairman. Together we have recruited some of the best millennials in the business to create an effective and motivated student organization.
What are your primary goals, have you been successful?
Our mission is to gather student support for Donald J. Trump and supply the official campaign with student volunteers in their perspective states. Our main goal is to get Mr. Trump elected, which we have been pretty successful at so far.
How big and influential is your organization? How diverse and widespread is it?
Our organization spans across all of the United States. We have representation in over 40 states. Before our reorganization to a Campus Ambassador system, we had over 300 active chapters.
Our social media pages are also fairly large. We have over 10 million impressions on Twitter with 25k followers. 45k followers on Instagram and a few thousand on Facebook. No other student groups within this presidential cycle have been able to gather as much millennial support as we have, which we are very blessed for.
What has been the general response to your organization – are most students that you reach out to respectful, rude, open-minded, closed-minded?
Initially when we first started, we were taken as a joke by many millennials. In an attempt to recruit state leadership, we sent emails out to all of the College Republicans state leaders and asked for any recommendations they may have had. The Kansas College Republicans National Team responded to us with a letter saying that they would never support Donald Trump for President and that they were essentially a part of the #NeverTrump crowd.
Social media is where most of the attacks come in. If you read some of the comments on our Instagram, you will see what I mean. We have also received personal attacks, I have received death threats over social media. It is a risk we are taking, but we are not doing this for ourselves. We are doing this for a cause much bigger than ourselves.
Do you support all of Trump’s stances? If not, what stances do you disagree with and why?
I was skeptical when he first announced. I was not sure what to think. I loved Donald Trump because of watching Celebrity Apprentice. I always loved his blunt attitude and his mindset on getting the job done no matter what. I never in my wildest dreams thought he would take the time to run for President of the United States. I read more into his policies about immigration and economy and I was impressed to say the least. He comes from a background where he has provided thousands of jobs to people over the years. Am I saying he can create jobs and put the economy on track overnight? No. But he can develop a strong, intelligent team that he will work with him to do so in time.
How do you respond to accusations that Trump is racist, especially after his remarks on Judge Curiel?
I am not saying this as a defense, but Donald Trump is a “rich, white man” in America. His every move and word is under the microscope. He speaks off the cuff. This is his nature, as he hates the posturing of what he sees as an oppressive, politically correct climate in America. I do not believe Donald Trump is a racist. It does not take a lot for anyone these days in the public eye to be accused of any of a number of malfeasances when their comments are weighed against what most see to be the “acceptable” behavior of the day.
He caught a lot of flak from fellow Republicans for those comments about the Judge, but it was determined later that his real concern was the fact that this particular Judge had been appointed by our Democratic President to hear the Trump University case, coupled with the fact that Judge Curiel was affiliated with organizations that openly and monetarily backed the Clintons, thus, it was a personal perception of conflict of interest that angered him.
What do you see as the most important issue facing the country today, and does that influence your support of Donald Trump?
Big government, on all fronts, is the main issue. Having an increasingly overpowering federal government affects everything – our economy, our security, our opportunity. The major part of our educated lives as young millennials have been spent in an environment of a government spiraling out of control. Trillions in debt that our generation and the generation after us will have to pay off. Increasing taxes. Personal liberties being taken away. College debt with less and less opportunity of finding a job and even hoping to be able to live the lifestyle of our parents. These are the concerns of millennials and all these factors fuel my support of Donald Trump. I am not quite ready to see the American Dream disappear, never to return.
How do you respond to accusations that Trump is too divisive of a character to be president – especially in light of his calls for violence at some of his rallies and his low favorability ratings?
I have been to six rallies. Never have I seen Mr. Trump incite or “start” the violence. I have, however, seen him react to people who act up at the rallies. You get out of a crowd experience what you go into it expecting. In earlier rallies he would make comments from the podium as people who were disturbing their neighbors, shouting, and blocking others’ views with signs, were made to leave. Recently this has toned down.
As for his divisiveness, and I think this is often described as Mr. Trump’s being “unpresidential”, he did not achieve the financial and business success he enjoys today without knowing that the key to any endeavor is surrounding oneself with knowledgeable and track proven advisers and consultants. He would not be the first President to whom a presidency would be a major adjustment, and we have seen past presidents successfully assimilate into that role.
Has speaking about your support for Trump had any ramifications – positive or negative – in your personal life?
Any Trump supporter in the limelight has experienced a plethora of the positive and the negative. As I said earlier, death threats for me personally, damaged vehicles for some of the other supporters I know, young people ostracized within their organizations and clubs at their high schools and colleges. One college student was recently downgraded on a paper because of their views on Trump and politics because these were not the politics of the professor. It is not all sweetness and light. The silver lining to all that is that we don’t have many of those robotic “memesters” that we saw so often in the Bernie crowds. If you are an outspoken Trump supporter, you had best have your act together because you WILL be put on the spot because of your conviction.
Do you think the mainstream media coverage of the election is fair? If not, why not and what are your thoughts on Trump’s “ban” on various media outlets including the Washington Post?
The media is what the media is. Money talks. Follow the money and one can usually determine whether an outlet is apt to be conservative or liberal. I was not even surprised about the allegations against Facebook regarding the selective trending. If one reads, one picks up on things and my suggestion to my folks is read widely. Read national outlets as well as foreign. Look at more than one viewpoint. Compare and contrast. Use those critical thinking skills you have heard about all your life. Excuse me, but I think it was the media that first banned him. One publication, in particular, relegated Mr. Trump to its “entertainment” news.
Finally, why should college students support Donald Trump?
Students for Trump believes Donald Trump to be the nominee that will be able to accomplish the most to improve our economy, toughen our security at home and abroad, and make opportunity available for our generation. We have seen our dollars devalued overseas. We have people who have been let into our country by liberal immigration practices pose a clear and present danger to our lives and our livelihoods. He supports a strong military and a support base for our veterans. He wants to bring common sense back to our educational system.
Do your homework, then vote your conviction. He is the only candidate that started with the theme of making America great again, and has stuck with it. And if these college students want to make their voices heard, join Students for Trump. Be a part of this movement that is working to energize this generation and get out the millennial vote. We welcome you to our cause.