GRAND RAPIDS — In one of her final campaign stops of the election season, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke to a crowd of 4,000 at Grand Valley State University about her vision for the country in an attempt to galvanize voters one day before the election.
Michigan’s position as a potential swing state has been highlighted by on influx of campaign events from both parties just prior to Election Day. President Barack Obama visited Ann Arbor Monday morning to campaign for Clinton, and later that night, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence (R–Ind.) also rallied in Grand Rapids. Surrogates for both have also visited throughout the week.
For the majority of this election cycle, Clinton has led Trump in the Michigan polls, with the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average putting Clinton 3 points ahead of Trump. However, in the Michigan primary election in March, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) upset Clinton to win the state after polls showed her with a 21.4-point lead prior to the election. Clinton's lead has also narrowed in the past weeks.
In Allendale, Clinton encouraged the audience to go vote the following day, asking them what example they wished to set for future generations.
“When your kids and your grandkids ask what you did in 2016, when everything was on the line, I hope you will be able to say that you voted for a better, stronger, fairer America,” she said. “An America where we build bridges — not walls, and an America where we prove that, yes, love trumps hate.”
At the event, Clinton touted her higher education reform plan, marked by a goal for tuition-free college for families who earn less than $125,000 per year. Following a primary season in which Sanders received a significant amount of support from college students for his tuition-free college plan, Clinton and Sanders collaborated on the renewed reform plan.
“I am proud of the campaign that Bernie Sanders and I ran,” she said. “We wanted to figure out how to produce on some of the goals we both shared.”
Clinton also spent much of her speech highlighting the differences between her and her opponent and criticizing the economic plans Trump has laid out. She emphasized the middle class, small businesses and renewable energy in her economic plan.
“We’ve got to have an economy for everybody, not just those at the top,” she said. “If you believe as I do that America thrives when the middle class thrives, then you have to vote tomorrow.”
In introducing Clinton, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) also criticized Trump on the economy, noting he has contracted work overseas and saying his primary interest is his personal profit.
“Donald Trump has lived his whole life for himself,” she said. “This guy has zero credibility on jobs … the only change Donald Trump cares about is the change in his own pocket.”
Clinton also stressed that she is a proponent of equal pay and paid family leave, two issues that have been cornerstones of her campaign. Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter, has also highlighted these issues while campaigning on his behalf.
Clinton said the contrasts between her and Trump are clear, noting he has accused her of taking political advantage of her gender.
“Just about everything I said so far my opponent disagrees with,” she said. “Whenever I talk about affordable childcare and equal pay and paid family leave he says that I am playing the women’s card. You know what I say? If that’s the case, then deal me in.”
Grand Valley student Kali Smolen said she was grateful for Clinton’s visit and said she found her emphasis on unity nationally to be particularly significant.
“I think that I feel really honored that she came to our university the day before the election,” she said. “I really, really appreciated her message of positivity and bridging and not building walls.”