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Valedictorian Pulls a Fast One With 'Trump' Quote

Ben Bowling revealed he was really quoting Barack Obama
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2018 4:44 AM CDT
It was quite the speech by Ben Bowling.   (Getty Images/adamkaz)

(Newser) – Perspective is everything in persuasive speaking, which Ben Bowling found out in a flash while giving a speech as valedictorian at his Kentucky high school graduation. Per the Louisville Courier-Journal, the 18-year-old senior at Bell County High School wanted to impart a nugget of wisdom to the crowd Saturday, and so he offered this quote he said he found during an internet search: "Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table." The source, he told his classmates and others, was Donald J. Trump, which elicited wild applause. "Just kidding," Bowling quickly informed his audience. "That was Barack Obama."

Then, suddenly … the applause waned; the New York Times notes there was a "lone boo" (a clip is on Twitter). Bowling lives in a county where the GOP has drawn the majority of ballots in presidential elections over the past 12 years, per the Washington Post—including almost four-fifths of the votes cast in 2016 for Trump. Bowling's switcheroo drew both laughter and "collective groaning," one attendee noted, per the Courier-Journal. The teen, who's heading to the University of Kentucky to study biology and is described by his principal to the Times as "very politically aware," says he "didn't mean anything bad" by his joke and was just trying to lighten the mood with what he thought was "a really good quote." The quote, meanwhile, was taken from a 2012 commencement speech the former president gave at Barnard College. (One valedictorian revealed her undocumented status.)

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