The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Charlie Kirk bashes college, border policies via Skype

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk surprised Mock Con attendees with a virtual speech after initial cancellation
Charlie Kirk joined Mock Con via a Skype call. Screenshot taken of 2024 Mock Convention livestream

Charlie Kirk canceled his speech on Feb. 9 due to a family emergency but ended up joining the convention via Skype the next day.

In his nine-minute speech, Kirk described the ways that America and the Republican Party are failing young people. The speech was at least in part funded by the Generals Redoubt, a conservative alumni group.

As the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization whose mission is to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote freedom,” Kirk has spent years engaging with young adults.

“It is harder than ever for a young person to buy and own a home. It’s harder than ever to live the life that your parents lived,” Kirk said. “It is harder than ever to do the things that are necessary to pass down a stable and meaningful country [from] one generation to the other.”

Kirk partly blamed this hardship on the “hyperinflation deterioration” of U.S. currency under current party leaders.

Kirk, a self-proclaimed supporter of Donald Trump, also attributed many challenges young people face to the current state of the Republican Party. He stated that he “completely” disagreed with the previous speaker, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a more traditional conservative.

On foreign policy, Kirk said that the Republican party is beginning to question decisions made by Biden’s administration, such as the decision to send  $250 billion to Ukraine when the money could have been spent helping a generation that is more “suicidal and alcohol-addicted” than any other in history.

Kirk also said there’s a “war industry and a war machine out of Washington, D.C.” that profiteers on sending young Americans overseas without making America any safer, and that keeping young generations safe should be prioritized.

Another way that Kirk says that the Republican Party is changing is in its immigration and border policies.

“We are in the midst of an invasion,” Kirk said. “There are currently 15,000 illegal people coming across the southern border every single day.”

According to data from Customs and Border Protection, in the month of December the Border Patrol reported a daily average of about 8,000 encounters.

Kirk also claimed that the Biden administration is “not only doing nothing, they are co-sponsoring and facilitating the invasion of our country” as well as forcing the U.S. to endure the crime, drugs, and sex trafficking Kirk associates with the migrants.

In response, Kirk said the Republican Party is changing to have a stronger stance against illegal crossings. He said that borders should be closed and strongly enforced to ensure that not a single “illegal person” could successfully cross.

And on trade, Kirk said that the Republican party is favoring domestic manufacturing and putting American college graduates first.

He praised Elon Musk for opening a large gigafactory in Texas and called for a revitalization of American advanced manufacturing, which used to be centered around Appalachia but has since moved to China.

Kirk summarized these changes as a “refutation of neoliberalism,” which he defined as a belief system of “invade the world, invite the world.” Britannica defines neoliberalism as an “ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition.”

Later in the speech, Kirk criticized what he perceived as a lack of difference between the traditional Republican and Democratic parties.

Kirk said that Donald Trump is “a threat to the Bush-Clinton uniparty in Washington, D.C.” because while the two figureheads agree on immigration, trade and war, “Trump disagrees on all three of those major things.”

Kirk claimed that this described uniparty has connections to a so-called D.C. “deep state” made up of bureaucrats that undercut elected officials.

While acknowledging that he was speaking at Washington and Lee Uni, Kirk said that the Republican Party should listen less to college-educated people from private institutions and should instead listen to the growing “muscular class” who work manual labor jobs and never went to college.

“They’re sick and tired of being called dumb, deplorable, stupid, and acting as if they don’t matter,” he said about the working class. “And they see Donald Trump as a vessel for their outrage.”

When Kirk visited Washington and Lee in 2019 as a guest speaker, he talked about the “war on the South” happening across America as cities attempted to sever ties with the Confederacy.

Kirk ended his speech with his belief that Trump will be the next president and a call to action for young people.

“The worst thing you could do is to be a cynic, is to not believe what you do has any meaning or bearing,” Kirk said. “The bad guys would love for you to be cynical, sit at home, not engaged, not involved.”

Kirk’s wife suddenly fell ill on Friday, which forced him to pull out of his initial speaking slot, said Political Chair Foster Harris, ’24.

Kirk said he was in Charlotte on Friday before having to fly back to Texas. However, Kirk said it was the diligence of the Mock Con team that made his appearance on Saturday possible.


Despite the fact that Kirk was eventually able to make an appearance, two other speakers had to pull out of the Mock Con lineup.

Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary and current co-host of “Outnumbered” on Fox News Channel, had to pull out due to “logistical issues,” Press Secretary Addie-Grace Cook, ’26, said.

Harris characterized McEnany as someone “who wanted to come, [but] whose parent company has a strict approval process.”

Political analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the Cook Political Report Amy Walter canceled more than a month ago.

General Chair Ramsey Trask, ’24, said that cancellations were to be expected at an event at the scale of Mock Con, where many of the speakers were prominent people who flew all over the country to attend events. Cook echoed these sentiments and said that this Mock Con was not uniquely plagued with issues compared to past conventions.

Even though many speakers pulled out, students interviewed said that their tickets to Mock Con were worth the price.

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