DETROIT — A day before the voter registration deadline, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton visited the state to urge Michigan students to sign up to vote.
More than 4,000 individuals piled into the Matthaei Athletic Center at Wayne State University to see Clinton speak Monday, with attendees filling almost the entire space.
The speech focused almost exclusively on issues affecting either young voters and the state of Michigan as a whole from college affordability to the comeback of the car industry due to a federal bailout, the latter of which Clinton emphasized she supported. Getting students to vote in itself, she told the crowd, was critical.
“I know there’s been a lot of negativity and it’s easy to get cynical — but I’ll tell you that’s what the other side wants you to do,” Clinton said. “They want you to just say, ‘Well, I’m not going to vote because it’s so nasty.’ But that’s the main reason to vote.”
Clinton’s stop in Michigan falls at a particularly intensive time in the campaign: a day following her debate against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Washington University in St. Louis, and a day before Michigan’s voter registration deadline. The pertinence of the latter was highlighted from the very beginning of the event, with U.S. Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D–Mich.) and John Conyers (D–Mich.) and U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D–Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.), among others, all urging voters in attendance to register to vote and bring a friend to the polls on Nov. 8.
Coming to Michigan Monday also hinted at the importance Democrats are placing on the state. In the most recent WSJ/NBC News election poll conducted Friday, Clinton led Trump by a large margin, 52 percent to 38 percent.
In Michigan, Clinton leads Trump 46.8 to 40, according to an aggregate of polls conducted by RealClearPolitics. On campus, according to the most recent poll conducted by The Michigan Daily, Clinton also leads 75 percent to 15 percent.
Yet, despite this large lead in the polls, speakers at the event emphasized the importance of Michgian — which Trump has stated he wants to turn — in the election.
“Michigan will be the determining factor of who will be the next president of the United States,” Lawrence said in her opening remarks.
This importance has been highlighted in other state visits as well. On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) gave a speech in support of Clinton on campus, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. At Monday’s event, Stabenow called the efforts “the one-two punch,” referring to Clinton’s speech Monday and an event with Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) at Wayne State on Tuesday.
“We have to vote as if our future depends on it, because it does,” Stabenow said.
In her remarks, Clinton said she would continue to support the comeback of the city of Detroit, and that youth support of that will be critical.
“I thought President Obama was pretty accurate when he was talking about how Detroit is coming back, and that’s thanks to a lot of you,” Clinton said. “And it’s going to really depend upon the young people in this city to build a future that we can all now be proud of.”
Additionally, Clinton tied most of her remarks to her setting, a college campus — though a majority of attendees did not appear to be college students — and devoted much of her speech to discussing the issue of college affordability and higher education reform.
“We’re going to make public colleges like Wayne State tuition free,” she said.
Targeting voters on the fence affected by student debt, Clinton pointed out Trump has not specified a plan to address higher education reform whatsoever, which was appealing for students such as Wayne State freshman Misbah Arshad.
“I love Hillary Clinton,” Arshad said. “In the beginning I did vote for Bernie Sanders but after seeing what Trump was going to offer, Hillary Clinton was the reason I really wanted to get involved in this election.”
The candidate also did not spare attacks on her opponent. “Did anyone see the debate last night? I bet you’ve never seen anything like that before,” Clinton said of Sunday night’s debate.
She also called on Trump to release his income tax information — pointing to audience attendees, she said they have most likely paid more into federal income taxes than Trump. Taxes, Clinton pointed out, go to fund programs that directly impact Michigan voters in the audience.
“Last night he admitted he hasn’t paid a dime in income taxes in years,” Clinton said. “That means zero for Pell Grants, zero for the military, zero for our vets. He hasn’t contributed his fair share on any stretch … I believe every single one of us in this room today has paid more in federal income taxes than Donald Trump has.”