An uptick in recent chatter about the University of Pennsylvania and presidential politics had Clout wondering this week: Why does President Donald Trump talk so much about his alma mater when Penn has so little to say about him?
Penn, as The Inquirer reported, spent more than $900,000 from 2017 to early 2019 to have former Vice President Joe Biden play the big man on campus. In return, Biden made about a dozen public appearances as the first Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice professor before going on leave in April to run for president.
- Penn has paid Joe Biden more than $900K since he left the White House. He wasn't teaching, so how did he earn that money?
- Pa. GOP chairman traded sexually charged messages with a Philly Council candidate. Then he sent her an explicit photo.
- Pa. GOP chairman resigns hours after an Inquirer story said he traded sexually explicit messages with a Philly Council candidate
The Penn admissions officer who interviewed Trump in 1966 — a close friend of the future president’s older brother — told the Washington Post last week that more than half the Wharton applicants then were accepted and transfer students like Trump had an even better chance of admission.
“Certainly not a super genius” is how James Nolan summed up his memory of Trump’s interview.
Trump is Penn’s first graduate to become president. Still, he is persona non grata on campus.
Trump’s camp has noticed the Penn snub.
A campaign spokesperson offered this Thursday: "While Joe Biden took more than $900,000 from the University of Pennsylvania, no one can really explain what he did to earn the money. President Trump is a proud graduate of the school along with three of his children, and unlike Biden, the Trump family has given back to Penn as donors.”
Penn, true to form, did not respond to Clout’s requests for comment about Trump.
Chris Schiller, a rising sophomore and current political director for the Penn College Republicans, estimates that about 75 percent of the club now backs Trump.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn’s alumni magazine, did not put Trump on its cover during his campaign or after his victory. Editor John Prendergast wrote this in the January-February 2017 issue: “Winning the U.S. presidency may be the only alumni achievement capable of both delighting and bitterly disappointing large segments of the alumni community.”
The 2019 primary election is in the past and, in a town where Democrats hold dominance, the results of the Nov. 5 general election are easy to predict in all but a few races.
Two City Council at-large seats, set aside in the City Charter for candidates who don’t belong to the ruling political party, are up for grabs. They have traditionally been held by Republicans but a crop of independent candidates are expected to seek them as well.
Incumbents Al Taubenberger and David Oh, taking flak from Republicans, aren’t seen as locks for reelection.
Taubenberger has been shadowed by a person wearing a dog costume, a reference to Taubenberger’s defense of former Parking Authority Executive Director Vince Fenerty, who resigned after The Inquirer reported he sexually harassed employees. Taubenberger said Fenerty’s behavior was nothing more than “a high school puppy love situation.”
“It was a poor choice of words, one which I have regretted, and it has dogged me the entire time of the campaign,” Taubenberger told Clout on Thursday. “Pun intended.”
And screengrabs are floating around about another Republican candidate, Bill Heeney, reviving talk of his past habit of posting controversial memes on Facebook.
Heeney, who has taken his Facebook profile private, said “politics is a dirty business.”
“I’m a big boy and I can handle it,” Heeney said in a statement. “What I can’t handle, and refuse to tolerate, is being falsely defined by dirty tricks.”
Valentino DiGiorgio III, the former chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, is out at Stradley Ronon after 20 years. We’d tell you why if we could, but nobody at the law firm — including chairman Bill Sasso — responded to requests for comment.
A Stradley spokesperson told the Legal Intelligencer later that day that “while unfortunate, this matter has nothing to do with either the firm or its clients.” DiGiorgio, who had been cochairman of the firm’s banking and public finance units, looked safe in his day job.