Commentator S.E. Cupp told GW College Republicans that the GOP will have to figure out how to move forward post-election.
By Kristen Mitchell
It’s hard to believe there was a time when conservative columnist and frequent CNN commentator S.E. Cupp and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were on friendly terms, she said. He once asked her to introduce him at a conference, and he sent her a housewarming gift when she moved into one of his New York City buildings—a cutting board branded with her initials.
Since then, the relationship has turned icy.
While speaking at George Washington University on Wednesday as part of a GW College Republicans event, Ms. Cupp read off several tweets Mr. Trump has written about her since he entered the race. He’s called her untalented, biased and boring. Another said she was a loser and would soon be off the air.
“It’s fair to say I’ve not seen anything like this,” she said. “Both professionally and personally, it’s been a rollercoaster.”
Ms. Cupp has covered three presidential and four midterm elections. She was one of the first journalists Mr. Trump’s campaign reached out to when he was planning to announce his run for office.
“I was excited,” she said. “I knew there would be issues, there was the birther stuff, there was the fact that he was not very disciplined, but I thought well we’ve got a great bench, if anything, you know, this will be interesting and different and maybe a way of making our guys look serious.”
She received an advance copy of his announcement speech, prepared remarks she said were substantive and focused on policy, his business experience and the country’s broken systems.
He didn’t use any of it, Ms. Cupp said.
“I knew then that this was going to be a challenging campaign to cover and obviously within the first few minutes of that speech when he steered the campaign into a very dark place and continued to do so, I knew I wasn’t going to be a Trump supporter,” she said.
Since he joined the race as one of 17 Republican primary candidates, Mr. Trump has actively campaigned to a dark segment of the population with nationalist values and has failed to court minorities and women, Ms. Cupp said. It’s unlikely Mr. Trump can win the election with only older white, male voters behind him.
“The question for Republicans is what next? Whether he wins or loses, we’ll have some soul searching to do,” she said.
Ms. Cupp revealed she already cast her vote for Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as a write-in candidate.
The country does better when both major parties are strong, Ms. Cupp said. Republicans are in a weak position, but the dynamics within the Democratic Party aren’t perfect either following a challenging primary between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Ms. Clinton’s character is also hard to defend, Ms. Cupp said. She has high unfavorable numbers and has been plagued by political scandals that contributed to why Mr. Sanders received so much support during the primary.
“His version of capitalism is letting you keep about one-third of your income. He ran as a Washington outsider who spent 30 year in elected office,” she said. “Yet this was a person who was competitive with Hillary Clinton.”
Toward the end of her lecture, Ms. Cupp encouraged young people to understand the power they have in the political system and to get involved in public service to make their voices heard.
Millennials are often characterized as idealistic or naive voters who don’t turn out on Election Day. These ideas about millennial voters, however, are off the mark, Ms. Cupp said.
Millennials are skeptics who have grown up in a constant time of war, economic insecurity and government failure. Young people are engaged in politics but uninspired, she said.
Democrats have taken advantage of millennial voters, while Republicans ignore them entirely. But millennials are becoming a group too big to ignore. By 2020 they will make up one-third of the voting block, Ms. Cupp said.
“You are exactly who we need to invest in politics,” she said. “I know this is garbage, we can do better. You deserve better, but we need your help to do it.”