After president criticizes Ben Jealous’ free college plan, he invites Trump to come campaign for Hogan

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Ben Jealous (left) and President Donald Trump. Photos via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and C-SPAN.

Donald Trump has gotten wind of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’ plan to offer free community college to all Maryland students, DREAMers included. Jealous has seized on that in his fight for Gov. Larry Hogan’s seat as governor.

Trump brought up Jealous without naming him at a campaign event in Montana last night. He was there to support GOP U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, who’s locked in a tight race against incumbent Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester.

“We want to protect American benefits, and we’re doing that, and I’ve done it,” the president told the crowd. “In Maryland, the Democrat candidate for governor wants to give illegal aliens free college tuition, courtesy of the American taxpayer. ‘Come on in! Free college!'”

His supportive audience booed loudly.

Jealous saw the speech last night, and seized it as a chance to demand Hogan condemn Trump’s remarks and support for college for all, including undocumented students.

“I’ve put out a clear plan that says any Maryland high school graduate can attend community college tuition-free, and that includes DREAMers who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own,” Jealous said in a statement. “I’m calling on Larry Hogan to reject this divisive rhetoric, agree that all of Maryland’s children deserve a quality education, and publicly reject Donald Trump’s efforts to campaign for him.”

Jealous tweeted an invite to Trump to come to Maryland and stump Hogan.

In an emailed statement, Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman said, “For four years, the governor has done things differently than they do in Washington, D.C., working in a bipartisan fashion that has kept us out of the partisan bickering and dysfunction.”

Asked if the governor would want Trump to come stump for him, he replied, “No, we’ve run this campaign on Maryland issues, for Marylanders and about Marylanders. We’ll keep it that way.”

Hogan this year enacted a law that expands need-based Promise community college scholarships with $15 million more for the program–which Sloofman said amounts to offering free community college–and the governor has proposed expanding Promise scholarships to four-year colleges. Sloofman said that would benefit “all Maryland residents in need, including Dreamers.”

“If Ben Jealous knew anything about what has gone on in Maryland over the past four years, he would understand that we’ve been working together in a bipartisan way to make this happen, and Marylanders have no interest in the hyper partisan fights he so clearly relishes.”

The governor has outwardly kept his distance from Trump while serving as governor. Most recently, in an August interview with The New York Times, he criticized the president’s knee-jerk Twitter outbursts, saying, “I don’t think it is adult behavior, and I don’t think it’s very presidential, and I think it’s hurting his ability to get things done.”

Hogan used the interview to put some additional distance between Trump and himself. “I still tend to identify with the Republican Party,” the interview concluded, quoting him. “I may not be a Trump Republican. But I don’t imagine he’s going to be around forever.”

Ethan McLeod
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