Real estate mogul Donald Trump, the first Liberty University Convocation speaker to have his remarks broadcast live, primarily focused his speech Monday on politics and the poor state of the U.S. economy, although he ultimately urged students at the Christian university to work hard and "never give up" on their goals.
- (Photo: Instagram/Dani Echeverria)
Trump, who took the stage at the Lynchburg, Va., university after school President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. offered a flattering introduction, began his speech by focusing on politics and his opinion of the current state of the U.S.
"Let's start by saying our country is in serious trouble," Trump said, relaying debt and unemployment rates to the crowd of excited students.
"The world is laughing at us. We're like a bunch of patsies. China is taking advantage of us like no one has done before," Trump continued, suggesting that the U.S. should function in more of an independent "we don't need anybody" mindset and begin production on American soil, as opposed to Asian countries.
Trump went on to give examples of relationships with Libya and Iraq over oil production, saying that he fears the country is headed in a direction which may be impossible to bounce back from.
"It's horrible, the way this country is being run is horrible. We have such unbelievable potential," Trump added.
After a few jabs at the country's "idiot politicians," a lack of "brain power" in government and President Barack Obama's birth certificate, Trump then changed the direction of his speech to focus on success, relaying stories of his youth and his climb to the top of the real estate chain.
Trump focused his success theme on giving advice to the students, telling them to follow their instinct, do what they love and never give up.
"To be a winner, you've got to think like a winner, and you are all beautiful winners," Trump said, concluding his speech.
In the question and answer portion of the Convocation, Trump told students that the most important word of advice he has for an upcoming businessman or woman involved "knowledge" and "hard work."
"The harder you work, the luckier you get," he told the students.
Liberty University students took to Twitter during Trump's remarks to express their excitement over his visit.
"Donald Trump is in the house!" tweeted student Celestyn Wyatt.
"The man, Mr. Donald Trump, himself is here at Liberty University haha unreal!" tweeted Brandon Bester.
Others, however, still had trouble understanding why a business mogul would be asked to give a speech at a Christian university.
"Donald Trump is at Liberty University because a thrice-divorced money changer is a good representation of Christianity. #CleansetheTemple," tweeted A.G. Flores.
In response to the criticism, Chancellor Falwell assured The Christian Post via email last week that the school is "a liberal arts university, not a Bible school," and that Trump is "an influential figure in government and politics."
Trump is perhaps most known for his real estate business, The Trump Organization, and his television show, "The Apprentice." Before his address to an estimated 10,000-member audience, Trump received an honorary Doctorate of Business degree from the university.
Previous speakers at the Liberty University's Convocation, held three times a year and described by the university as "North America's largest weekly gathering of evangelical young people," include GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, and evangelical Christian pastors Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll.
Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell senior, a Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative political commentator. The school offers law, government, and business programs as part of its curriculum, and counts nearly 100,000 students enrolled on campus and online.