When dissenters began chanting “Impeach Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. brushed it off.
“Good luck, guys,” the oldest son of the U.S. president said inside the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on Thursday evening.
“You’ve been trying for three years,” Trump Jr. said. “Nothing’s going to change.”
For over an hour, relentless noise from Donald Trump supporters and dissenters – for sure, mostly supporters – punctuated the atmosphere as his son and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior adviser to the president’s reelection campaign, pushed their agenda from the stage.
ACCENT Speakers Bureau, an organization funded by UF student government, invited Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle – and will pay them $50,000 from student activity fees for their appearance.
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle confirmed they are involved romantically several times while on stage.
“It’s not fake news that I know Donald Trump Jr. a little bit better,” Guilfoyle said suggestively.
A former Fox News pundit and an author, Guilfoyle spoke before he did. As she left the stage, Trump Jr. told her she “did a good job, baby,” and she gave him a peck on his cheek.
“By the way, she kissed me,” Trump Jr. told the audience. “I don’t want to get ‘Me Too’d’ on a college campus.”
ACCENT has described Trump Jr. as an “innovator and leader in today’s business world.” He is an executive vice president at the Trump Organization in New York and author of a book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” due out next month.
Trump Jr. mentioned his book within five minutes of taking the stage. He said one of the issues the book touches on is “the suppression of conservative ideas” on college campuses.
Both speakers praised President Trump’s administration many times.
“There is not a single economic metric where we are not better off today than we were three years ago,” Trump Jr. said.
Speaking of both Trump and Trump Jr., Guilfoyle said, “I know their integrity and character and how much they fight for each and every one of us no matter your difference of opinion.”
ACCENT Speakers Bureau Chair Henry Fair began the event by reiterating its mission of bringing “prominent, controversial and influential speakers.” The mission statement incited the first boos of the night, but oftentimes the boos were drowned out by chants of “USA! USA!”
A couple of protesters stood and began shouting while Trump Jr. spoke. A woman wearing a “Dream Defenders” T-shirt was escorted out when she refused to sit down. Some among the crowd sang “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye” as she was ushered out.
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle were not shy about addressing the dissenters in the room.
Him: “Your ideas can’t be good if you’re not willing to let other people speak theirs.”
Her: “Some people here need to go home and Netflix and chill. They seem a little stressed out.”
Trump Jr. also said people don’t understand his father’s humor because the media misinterprets his jokes. Republicans will “never lose the meme war,” Trump Jr. said, adding that Democrats “don’t have to take everything so seriously all the time and be essentially miserable people.”
He called the media misleading and a marketing tool for the Democratic National Committee.
Guilfoyle spoke of how her family made the most of the American dream. She said people think someone with a background like hers – her mother was born in Puerto Rico; her father immigrated from Ireland – should “believe they are a victim because they are a minority.”
The opposition went into an uproar when Guilfoyle referenced Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream,” she said, “to continue to give back and fight for this country.”
UF students in opposition to the event have argued that the $50,000 paid to the duo could have been used to help the struggling multicultural organizations funded by student activity fees.
An official #CHOMPTRUMP protest went on outside the auditorium throughout the event.
Gator alum Jonathan Coron, 60, a wellness consultant, of Gainesville, joined the protest with a sign that read “MAGA REALLY IS MAKE AMERICA GROTESQUE AGAIN.”
“I’m about as disgusted as I could be,” Coron said. “I believe there should be a balance of opinions, but certain people are just inappropriate to have at a university.”
UF kept to a prior official statement asserting that it would “welcome” Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle to campus as part of its commitment to “ensuring that a wide variety of viewpoints are heard on campus as well as to protecting the First Amendment rights of all those in attendance.”
University spokesperson Steve Orlando said the UF Police Department coordinated with local, state and federal law enforcement to ensure a safe environment at the event.
Upon leaving the auditorium after the program, Rich Markow, 55, an attorney from Alachua City, choked up while asking why UF would allow students to shout at a paid speaker.
“I’m a disabled combat vet, so this was very stressful for me,” Markow said. “You have a constitutional right to scream in a public square, not in the building.”
Tiffany Berkley, 21, a UF biomedical engineering major from Crestview, Okaloosa County, said she felt “hyped up” and supported after the event.
“It makes me happy to see a lot of younger people at UF that are pro-American values,” Berkley said. “ACCENT usually brings left-wing speakers.”
Calling it a “biased and crazy world,” Trump Jr. thanked his supporters for “having the guts to come.” He added: “It’s not easy to be a conservative. Even harder to be a conservative who also happens to be a Trump supporter.”
The night ended with the crowd chanting: “Four more years! Four more years!”
Below: View more photos from the night shot by UF student photographer Cheyce Batchelor.