by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Over the past few days, both former president Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have spoken at conservative student conferences, giving very different messages.
On July 23, Trump took the stage at Turning Point USA’s annual Student Action Summit in Tampa, Fla., where he proceeded to mock the January 6 committee, calling Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) “unhinged,” lumping her in with other “political thugs” who “perpetrated the lies that I was an agent of Russia.”
Who were those of whom Trump spoke kindly? He gave a shout-out to Doug Mastriano, a “stop the steal” candidate whom Democrats helped to win the Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial primary.
He also called Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation for his alleged involvement in child sex trafficking, “a great guy and a tough guy and our friend.” …
… Although he correctly touted his administration’s accomplishments and condemned the evil that the Left is perpetuating, affirming that there are only two genders, the vitriol and personality politics tainted his speech’s good sections, just as his conduct in the aftermath of his loss in the 2020 election stained his presidential legacy.
“I was the most persecuted person in the history of our country,” he said.
In contrast, today in Washington, D.C., Pence spoke to a crowd of students at Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference. There, he affirmed his commitment to being “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order.”
He also outlined a new platform for the future of the conservative movement, a “Freedom Agenda,” which he had meant to unveil at the Heritage Foundation the previous night, though his flight into town was canceled.
“God must have had different plans for today,” he said. “In fact, He must have decided that a talk about the future, a talk about an agenda for the future, should be given to the rising generation. A talk about the Freedom Agenda should be given to the freedom generation.”