Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) visited Eastern Michigan University's campus Monday night to campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.), Sen. Gary Peters (D–Mich.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Ann Arbor), and encourage students to register to vote ahead of the voter registration deadline Tuesday.
Booker’s visit coincided with a stop by Clinton earlier in the day at Wayne State University, where she also discussed the importance of the student vote. Stabenow and Peters also attended the Wayne State University rally. Additionally, last week Sen. Bernie Sanders visited the University of Michigan’s campus to discuss how the election affected students.
Booker’s and Clinton’s visits were both on college campuses, as part of an effort to reach young voters. Young people traditionally have the lowest turnout numbers of any age demographic.
LSA senior Lauren Gallagher, president of the University’s chapter of Students for Hillary, said she hoped Booker’s visit will encourage students to register to vote on both EMU’s campus and the University of Michigan’s campus.
“I think it’s really nice that they are coming to Eastern because it attracts the Eastern community, but we are also really close,” she said. “Booker really speaks to millennials … him coming out here specifically is really calling for millennials to get out and register to vote.”
Gallagher also noted Booker will be on the University of Michigan’s campus this week for a private event with only one student organization. The press was not invited to the event.
Over the election cycle, both campaigns have emphasized the importance of Michigan though the state has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, and Clinton has maintained a lead in the polls throughout the majority of the election. The most recent RealClearPolitics polling average showed Clinton leading in Michigan by 6.8 points.
However, during his remarks, Booker said Michigan still plays a significant role in this election, noting it is not as secure as states such as his own New Jersey.
“This is an important firewall state that we just got to win,” he said. “This is a state that’s up for grabs and could determine the fate of our country.”
Another theme common among all of the speakers was emphasizing the Clinton campaign’s slogan, “Stronger Together.” in contrast to Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Peters said this election represents more than the two candidates, but rather looks at the country’s values as a whole.
“This is really about who we are as a country. This is about the values,” Peters said. “It is going to be about what kind of country we want to be in.”
Similarly, Stabenow took aim at Trump’s economic platform, first outlined in part during a Detroit visit in early August.
“There are so many things we could say about Donald Trump, but I’m sick of Donald Trump,” she said. “The only thing I want to stress from our standpoint is that it is a joke when this guy says that he can create jobs.”
Sam Jones-Darling, president of EMU’s chapter of College Democrats, said Booker’s visit to a college campus emphasizes the significance of the student vote.
“I think it really shows one of the more important things, in that everybody’s vote really does count,” he said. “Especially students’ votes. That’s something that Cory Booker has consistently been saying, and that’s something that Hillary Clinton has consistently been saying.”
Jones-Darling also noted the majority of EMU’s campus is largely Democratic and has one of the larger minority populations of any institution in the country. Booker is one of two African-American members of the U.S. Senate.
In the last two weeks, the University of Michigan's campus has been rocked by several anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ incidents, which led to large protests from students. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Booker said incidents like the ones on campus can allow for the community to unite against negativity.
“First of all, that kind of hatred is God-awful,” he said. “But oftentimes when you see such awful, evil things manifest, it’s an opportunity for the community to come together and be much stronger.”
Overall, Gallagher also noted the importance of the white, working class vote in this election, which is where Trump draws a large portion of his support.
“They realize that Trump is really trying to win this election through these industrial Midwestern states, so Michigan is important,” she said. “It’s important that everyone in Michigan is registered to vote, so that they can go out and vote for Hillary Clinton on Election Day.”