Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) spoke to Ann Arbor volunteers for the Hillary Clinton campaign Saturday morning ahead of an Ann Arbor women’s canvassing event.
About 50 volunteers gathered at the Jackson Road Clinton Coordinated Campaign Office before walking through local neighborhoods to knock on doors and encourage residents to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee on Election Day Nov. 8.
In her remarks, Richards stressed the importance of efforts made in the few weeks ahead of the election, placing emphasis on the importance of social justice issues. She said strong efforts during this period are necessary to prevent the election of Repubican nominee Donald Trump who she says would slow down or dampen work done on civil rights promotion and development.
“It is important because we can’t go backwards in this country, whether it’s on civil rights or LGBT rights or the right to marry or the right to access safe and legal abortions — the right to access Planned Parenthood,” she said. “I feel like all of the issues that are animating us are what’s going to carry us over in these last few weeks.”
Dingell echoed Richards, saying the close competition between Clinton and Trump would be close, making campaigning and bringing people to the polls are especially imperative.
“The stakes are high in this election,” Dingell wrote in an email to the Daily. “This is going to be a close election. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. We have to fight for every single vote in Michigan from now until November 8.”
Stephen Neuman, the senior adviser to the Michigan Democratic Party’s campaign efforts, said canvassing in neighborhoods is an important component of the campaign effort, as personally reaching out to residents can be an effective way to encourage voting.
“We think that these one-on-one discussions are the best way to get our message out, and there are canvasses like this happening all over the state this morning,” he said. “These are the most effective people we have to articulate our message and amplify it.”
Richards also said one of the best ways to get information out to people is simply by reaching them at their houses.
“One of the main reasons people say they didn’t vote is that no one ever asked them to, so at this point I don’t care what the TV ads are or the polls — it doesn’t matter,” she said. “The only thing that matters is literally person-to-person contact.”
Campaign volunteer Claire Zimmerman, an Ann Arbor resident, said she had previously canvassed for the 2008 Obama campaign and found canvassing can be a good way to start discussion on big issues.
“I think you really have to judge at the moment, if you get somebody who just doesn’t want to talk to you, I think it’s counterproductive to push ideas that you have, but otherwise we will have some good conversations with people about our democratic system,” Zimmerman said.
Ann Arbor resident Karen Goldberg said she did not have experience canvassing for a presidential campaign, but wants to help provide information to undecided voters and help push them to get out to vote.
“If they are leaning but not quite decided, I will talk to them about why it is important to get out and vote for Hillary,” she said.
Correction: The event location was originally reported to be the Planned Parenthood Ann Arbor Office which is incorrect, the event took place at the Hillary Clinton Coordinated Campaign Office. The original article also stated the Debbie Dingell quote was provided in a press release; it was sent in an email to the Daily. This article has been updated with the correct location and the quote.