Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, visited East Lansing Thursday night to advocate for her mother’s campaign.
Michigan State University’s chapter of College Democrats hosted Clinton in the university’s student union, with 200 people were in attendance. After speaking for 15 minutes at the public event, Clinton took questions from several attendees.
MSU junior Dan Eggerding, president of MSU College Democrats, said Michigan State was honored to host Clinton. He noted the important role such events play in mobilizing voters, especially at this stage in the campaign.
“As a student at MSU, I think it’s important that campaigns send representatives from their respective campaigns to get out the vote — especially now since the October registration deadline is approaching,” Eggerding said. “A huge surrogate, such as the daughter of the former president and hopeful next president, is a really amazing and awesome thing that MSU was humbled to host.”
Clinton spoke about a variety of topics during the event Thursday, with a focus on the value of every vote in this election. She called on MSU students to encourage their friends to register to vote and plan on making it to the polls on Election Day.
“This election is relevant to everybody,” Clinton said. “Talk to your friends about college affordability. This election is relevant to all of us.”
Discussing the current landscape of higher education, she highlighted her mother’s New College Compact — a plan aimed at restructuring current student debt and establishing tuition-free public universities and colleges — saying it could reshape student debt in the United States.
Throughout the night, Clinton also emphasized contrasts between Hillary Clinton and her rival, Republican nominee Donald Trump. After an attendee asked a question regarding the current Syrian refugee crisis and global climate of Islamophobia, she highlighted Trump’s “normalization of hate speech” and her mother’s commitment to her campaign slogan, “stronger together.”
With that slogan hung behind her, Clinton charged that her mother’s campaign focuses on bringing people together, while Trump’s focuses on divisiveness.
“We have a lot more work to do to keep the progress that has been made and continue the work that still has to be done,” Clinton said. “The president can lead but she can’t do it alone. … (Hillary Clinton is the) only one person running for president who believes that the ‘we’ includes all of us.”
Taiwo Dosunmu, communications director of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats, wrote in an e-mail interview that Clinton’s visit to MSU, like Tim Kaine’s recent stop at the University of Michigan, signifies the importance of the student vote.
“In the past, Democrats have done well in Michigan presidential contests, but as Tim Kaine alluded to at his rally here on campus, victory in Michigan — or anywhere — cannot be taken for granted,” Dosunmu wrote. “Students and young voters across the state have a great deal of power in this election and we must take responsibility for our future."
Along with Chelsea Clinton and Tim Kaine, many other supporters of Hillary Clinton, as well as the candidate herself, have been frequent visitors to the state. Trump has also had a noticeable presence in Michigan, visiting the state most recently during a Sept. 14 visit to Flint.
Trump’s campaign has said several times they plan to take Michigan in the election, though the state has not been won by a GOP nominee since Ronald Reagan.
A recent Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll found Trump to be closing in on Clinton’s lead. The poll projected 38 percent of the vote for Clinton and 35 percent to Trump — the rest of the respondents, 13 percent, were either still undecided, backing Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
This is consistent with national polling throughout the campaign, showing a statistically close race with the two candidates frequently within a few points of one another. The most recent polling, from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, found that Clinton leads Trump nationally by six points among likely voters.
In a statement in response to Clinton’s event, Scott Hagerstrom, the Trump campaign’s Michigan state director, charged that her campaign wasn’t right for the state.
“After Hillary let slip at a Wall Street fundraiser earlier this month that she sees half of this country's voters — including veterans, police officers, firefighters and other hard working Americans — as either 'deplorable' or 'irredeemable,' Michiganders have one question for Chelsea Clinton on her visit here — does she agree with Hillary’s view of them?” Hagerstrom said.