On July 12, CNN held a town hall in which everyday citizens asked questions of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Zak Marcone (CC’19) was one of those invited to ask a question. The Lion interviewed him about his experience challenging the Speaker’s decision to endorse the Republican Nominee for President, Donald Trump.
How did you get invited to the town hall?
About two months ago, I was invited to a Ted Cruz town hall. I went to that one, but I didn’t get an opportunity to ask a question. Someone from CNN remembered me from the past town hall and sent me an email when the spot opened up for this one.
What question did you ask Paul Ryan?
It concerns me when the Republican leadership is supporting someone who is openly racist, has said Islamophobic statements, and wants to shut down our borders. How can you morally justify your support for this kind of candidate?
I guess it was because I wasn’t afraid to ask what was on everyone’s mind with Paul Ryan, specifically the moral issue of his support for Donald Trump. It is the elephant in the room and something that’s ignored, which he did when he answered my question. I think it’s also because I used the words “racist and Islamophobic” and he did not deny that Trump is those things in any way at all. I think that that was probably the main reason that it got so much attention.
How did you feel about confronting Ryan?
I wouldn’t call it a confrontation. I just couldn’t think of any answer for myself for why he would support Trump, and I wanted to see for myself how he would answer the question.
How do you feel about Paul Ryan’s answer to your question?
I wasn’t really expecting anything and I didn’t really get anything either. It was a last effort on my part to elicit some sort of moral compass from Paul Ryan and a larger, general stance from a Republican leader.
In your opinion, what options do young Republicans have if they don’t support Trump’s views but also don’t want to vote Democrat?
I would very strongly say that you have to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don’t think that there is a third party option unless you agree with Libertarian policy. I think if you’re a moderate Republican like me, you really need to vote for Hillary Clinton. Even though a lot of her policies are different than conservatives are looking for, the other option is much much more dangerous. In a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there’s only really one option, and that’s Hillary Clinton.
Does Trump’s choice of Mike Pence as a running mate alter your opinion about Trump as a candidate in any way? Why or why not?
I really didn’t think my opinion of Trump could get any worse. Well it did. Pence is a terrible person who clearly has deep prejudices against the LGBT community as well as other groups. This makes me even more disappointed in Paul Ryan for supporting him.