Steve Forbes speaking at the Merrimack Republican Women's Club Dinner in Nashua, during his 2000 presidential campaign.

Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

Steve Forbes speaking at the Merrimack Republican Women's Club Dinner in Nashua, during his 2000 presidential campaign.

October 15, 2017

Cornell Republicans to Host Steve Forbes

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Since November, numerous political groups have invited speakers from across the political spectrum to detail the future of the country under President Donald Trump. Editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Steve Forbes will weigh in on this debate next week.

A businessman and a politician, Forbes will detail his predictions for the American economy under the Trump administration on Oct. 25 — an event hosted by Cornell Republicans with Young America’s Foundation.

Forbes’s experience in business, media and politics bear similarities to Trump’s own background, offering him a “unique position” on Trump, said Cornell Republicans president Austin McLaughlin ’18.

“He’s somebody that has supported and criticized Trump at various points on his economic agenda and how it’s shifted in a variety of directions in the past year and a half,” he said.

With tax reform as the next item on Trump’s agenda, Cornell Republicans planned Forbes’s lecture to detail this issue and the “state of free enterprise in the country as a whole,” McLaughlin said.

Notably, Forbes proposed a flat tax reform in both 1996 and 2000, when he entered the Presidential primaries as a candidate of the Republican party, according to the Washington Post.

Under Forbes’s idea for a flat tax system, everyone would pay a 17 percent tax regardless of their income, instead of a current progressive tax system where tax increases as income increases, The Washington Post reported.

Having invited mainly political speakers in the past, McLaughlin said he hopes the event will “establish a relationship with the business community” and “connect with people that might not normally be interested in politics.”

As someone who has dabbled in both fields, McLaughlin said that Forbes’s background is “very translatable for undergraduate students.” Forbes’s lecture about both Trump and the economy could then “unite school interests,” McLaughlin said.

Cornell Republicans plans to have security at the event next week, though admittedly not “as extensive as it would have been for Gingrich or Santorum,” McLaughlin said.

Cornell Republicans assessed high-level security threats for past lectures given by Newt Gingrich in March 2017 and Rick Santorum in November 2016. Students protested both within and outside Santorum’s talk and McLaughlin said the organization received “death threats” prior to the event.

The organization decided that Forbes’s lecture would be considered “low-level,” McLaughlin said. Cornell Republicans met with Cornell University Police Department to make this assessment.

CUPD considers historical trends for this assessment, looking at past backlash when the speaker spoke at other college campuses. It also assesses the commentary, especially on the Facebook announcement for the event, from the Cornell community, McLaughlin said.

For this reason, Cornell Republicans is not expecting any protests or backlash, McLaughlin said. At this point, the organization has not received any threats.

However, given uncertainty, McLaughlin said security will still be at the event, per “CUPD’s request.”

However, as a shift from Gingrich’s lecture, Cornell Republicans will be paying their own security expenses. McLaughlin said he did not know if in the near future, the University will offer to foot the cost, saying that he could see this offer going “either way.”

Cornell Republicans plans to meet with members of the administration, including Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, following the event. Because the University paid security fees for Gingrich’s event, McLaughlin said Cornell Republicans and the administration have been “discussing codifying that relationship” of paying security fees.

The lecture will take place in the Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall. Tickets will be distributed at Willard Straight Hall and by e-board members of Cornell Republicans starting Monday, Oct. 16.

The Cornell Republicans will also be raising money for Puerto Rico relief outside the auditorium before and after the lecture.