GAINESVILLE — Donald Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle roiled the University of Florida on Thursday night as hundreds protested student government’s use of school funds to pay the pair to speak on campus.
Protesters began circling University Auditorium about 90 minutes before their appearance started, chanting and carrying signs criticizing President Donald Trump. Then about 800 people filed into the historic building in the heart of UF’s campus to listen to the president’s son and the former Fox News personality who is now an advisor to the president’s re-election campaign.
Inside, the crowd was mixed. Some attendees waved flags for President Trump’s re-election campaign and wore the iconic, red “Make America Great Again” caps. Others booed and shouted insults at the couple.
“You’re terrible,” yelled one critic in the crowd.
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle were contractually barred from campaigning for President Trump while at UF, because they accepted $50,000 in public funds. Still, they followed the usual Trump family script, praising the president’s successes while criticizing his opponents, raising legal questions about the event.
Guilfoyle spoke first. Amid chants and cheers, she shook her hips and exclaimed: “Go Gators, baby!” Then she asked the crowd if they liked her eyeglasses.
“Hot for teacher, anybody?,” she said, peering over the frames.
Guilfoyle thanked ACCENT, the arm of UF’s student government responsible for organizing speaking events, for bringing her and Trump Jr. to campus. She called it “a service for the freedom of speech and the First Amendment.”
The group’s chair, Henry Fair has declined multiple requests for comment from the Tampa Bay Times and other media outlets to discuss how Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. were selected to speak. He introduced the couple.
Members of ACCENT also tried to keep reporters from recording and photographing more than the first five minutes of each speech. Every time a member of the media raised their phone or camera, the students told them to stop. However, university officials said the media was allowed to record the event, despite Trump Jr.’s contract attempting to limit those activities.
Guilfoyle screamed through her time at the podium to pump up the chanting crowd. A group of Trump supporters drowned her out by yelling “USA! USA! USA!.”
“God, I love the sound of that,” she said.
When the opposition started chanting, she replied: “It seems like some people here need to go home and have some Netflix and chill. They seem a little stressed out.”
She spoke about her childhood, mentioning several times that although she is a Latina woman who was raised by a single parent, she still managed to build a successful career by working hard and refusing to feel sorry for herself.
“There is a reason that they want you,” she said, referring to the Democratic Party. “They need you to be a victim.”
She urged students not to fall for the “rise of socialism” in the country, repeating a common Republican talking point. She questioned how Democrats are “grabbing hold” of students.
At one point, Guilfoyle borrowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous line — outraging some in the audience.
“I have a dream,” she said, then trailed off as people started screaming in opposition. They, in turn, were drowned out by more chants of “USA! USA! USA!”
Near the end of Guilfoyle’s speech, her boyfriend Trump Jr. took the stage. She praised President Trump for “standing tall” for America.
“God bless the Trump family,” she screamed. “God bless President Trump.”
The two embraced for a kiss.
“She kissed me,” Trump Jr. said. “I don’t want to get #MeTooed on a college campus.”
Some laughed at his reference to the movement against sexual violence, while others seemed shocked and stared in disbelief.
The opposition had chants of its own: “Na na na na, na na na na. Hey, hey hey. Goodbye.”
Trump Jr. didn’t seem phased. “Your ideas can’t be all that good if you’re not willing to let other people speak theirs,” he said.
Like Guilfoyle, he criticized the Democratic Party, again referring to socialism.
“They’re selling a fictitious dream,” he said. “It’s easy to believe in Santa Clause when you don’t have the facts.”
Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle answered a few questions from the audience via Twitter who used the #AskDonandKim hashtag. One question for Trump Jr. asked about the best advice his dad ever gave him. He joked that President Trump once told him he was “too aggressive” on social media.
“I said wait a minute, I will take your advice on business, politics and virtually everything,” Trump Jr. said. “But one place I may not listen is that I’m getting too hot on social media, because I’m pretty sure he has set the benchmark.”
It ended with Guilfoyle saying it was time to go and the crowd agreeing, booing the couple and yelling “goodbye.” Then Trump Jr. thanked his supporters for having the courage to attend.
“It’s not easy to be a conservative,” he said. “And it’s even harder to be a vocal conservative who just happens to be a Trump supporter.”
Then they did the Gator chomp before leaving the stage.