Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, reflected on the 2016 presidential campaign with Penn State students in the Freeman Auditorium at the HUB-Robeson Center on Thursday.
“I was watching the last debate at home, and with about 15 minutes to go I wrote ‘madame president’ under Hillary’s podium. She looked, sounded and acted like a president,” Rendell said.
Rendell was governor from 2003 to 2011 and mayor of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2000. He held the positions of chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1999 to 2001 and district attorney of Philadelphia from 1978 through 1986.
Although he said he thinks Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will win the election, Rendell had some criticism for the way she has run her campaign.
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“Hillary has been a terrible candidate. I’ve told her that. She made a joke about her leaked emails: who on her campaign thought that was funny? She’s made mistake after mistake,” Rendell said. “There are two reasons she is winning: the first is Donald Trump and the second is her performances in the debates.”
An audience member asked Rendell if he thought Donald Trump would destroy the Republican Party.
“He sure hasn’t helped it, but he won’t destroy it,” Rendell said.
His experience with Pennsylvania politics and people sparked a discussion about who would win the state.
“Most people believe Hillary will win Pennsylvania, but I think there is a hidden Trump vote,” he said. “The people are different in the greater Philadelphia area than the rest of the state.”
He then shifted his focus to the dilemma faced by incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania race.
“If he doesn’t support Trump, he runs the risk of Trump fanatics not voting for him,” Rendell said. “If he supports Trump, he might lose the support of the people in the Philadelphia suburbs — where he needs to hold his own.”
Rendell offered some professional advice to Toomey.
“If I was his political consultant, I would advise him to get out there and say that I disagree with most of what Donald Trump says, but in matters of the Supreme Court he will make better choices than Hillary Clinton. And that is really important to my view of this country,” Rendell said.
Rendell said he realizes the 2016 campaign has been controversial, however, he remains optimistic that people will turn out to vote on Election Day.
“This is the most covered and entertaining election ever,” Rendell said. “I think the turn out is going to be higher than people think.”
Matt Castle is a Penn State journalism student.