A group of Augustana students was able to experience President Trump’s visit to Sioux Falls on Sept. 7 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center during a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Kristi Noem.
The event boasted a $500 minimum entry fee, a price too large for any regular college student according to sophomore Audrey Cope, one of the students who attended the event.
“The adults are the ones who fund campaigns,” Cope said. “Not very many young people [were there] at all.”
But the students had various ways of sliding past the high prices.
Cope said that her work on the Dusty Johnson campaign was her way in.
Cope got a call the night before President Trump arrived in town. The caller informed her that she was going to see the president.
“At the last second [the Noem campaign] said they were going to have extra room and they gave us that opportunity to come and see the president as a thank you for all the work that we’ve done volunteering throughout the past year,” Cope said.
Senior Mason Breitling ran telephones for the Noem campaign the day of the fundraiser, also selling tickets to the event.
“I don’t know if I would’ve been able to [go] because it’s quite a hefty fund,” Breitling said.
However because Breitling was working for the Noem campaign, he got in for free.
Senior Angelica Laurent said that she was able to meet Trump through her networking connections and support from the Minnehaha Republicans. Laurent is currently serving as the secretary of state for the executive board of the College Republicans of South Dakota.
Laurent did not attend the fundraiser but was part of a group of about twenty people who welcomed Trump at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
“[We were] behind this little gated area and he made it a point to shake every single person’s hand and say something to them, which I thought was very genuine of him,” Laurent said.
Photographs with President Trump at the fundraiser came with a $5000 price tag, but Laurent asked for a free selfie with the president, and he obliged.
From there, Trump went directly to Noem’s fundraiser at the Premier Center, where Augustana students listened to his speech, which was approximately thirty-five minutes long.
“He talked about his policies as a whole [and] the economy,” Breitling said. “He spoke on Kristi’s behalf, how she’d be great for [governor].”
It was a pretty typical campaign fundraiser except for the extra excitement in light of the high-profile guest Cope said.
“There were ladies in Trump hats crying when he came out,” Cope said. “There was a ton of energy in the room. It was really cool to be able to watch the event.”
For most students, the takeaway was simple: being given the opportunity to see any president of the United States is huge, and they took it.
“It allows you to see their personality, and not through a TV screen or through media,” Laurent said. “You actually get to see who they are as a person.”
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