This Valedictorian's Speech Got Cheers For Quoting Trump — Until They Realized He Was Quoting Obama

Graduation season is upon us, which means it’s time for tear-jerking speeches and inspirational quotes. In the current political and social climate, it’s also become a time for great controversy, with students at Bethune-Cookman University last year booing speaker Betsy DeVos and a speaker at Sweet Briar College this year denouncing the #MeToo movement and receiving swift backlash.

But Ben Bowling, the valedictorian of a high school in southeastern Kentucky, took a slightly more humorous approach to his speech.

Speaking in front of his classmates on June 2, Bowling said, “This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google." The quote he chose? “'Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.' - Donald J. Trump.”

He received a ton of applause and cheers for this, which isn’t surprising—according to The Washington Post, 82 percent of voters in Bell County, where Bowling’s high school is located, voted for Trump in the 2016 election. But the real noteworthy part was what Bowling said next.

“Just kidding, just kidding,” he told the audience. “That was Barack Obama.”

If there’s something that can make a crowd fall silent faster than telling a crowd of Republicans they just cheered for a Democrat, let me know, because in the Twitter video shared by CBS News, the cheers fizzled out within a second. Someone even booed. (Which says something about partisan politics in 2018.)

The quote was, in fact, courtesy of Barack Obama, and from a graduation speech, no less: Obama said this to graduates of Barnard College back in 2012.

But unlike other politically charged commencement speeches, Bowling’s speech became a subject of laughter rather than anger, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal

Well played, Bowling. Well played.

Erica is a feature writer, news and entertainment writer, and editorial intern at Her Campus, and a staff writer at Her Campus Columbia Barnard. She is a sophomore at Barnard College of Columbia University, studying English and creative writing. In her free time, she can be found searching New York City for trendy dessert places, watching Vine compilations on YouTube, or dancing with Columbia Orchesis, a student dance group. She has very strong opinions about gender equality (for), pineapple on pizza (against), and the Oxford comma (for). You can find her on Instagram at @ericaakam.

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