Clinton makes rare press call to college students across the country

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 3:05pm

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hosted a press call with college students from across the country Thursday morning, discussing her commitment to younger voters. The call followed a recent push by the Clinton campaign to engage with more reporters.

Clinton has only recently started talking directly with reporters again after not holding any press conferences since the start of 2016. On Monday, she announced she would allow her press pool — the team of reporters designated to cover every aspect of Clinton’s campaign — to travel on her plane.

During most presidential election years, the candidates begin traveling with a press pool shortly after the official nomination at respective conventions. This year, both Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have been much more reluctant than usual to allow their respective press pools to fly with them. Trump still uses his personal plane without the press on board, though he invited the press on board for a recent flight.

Both have faced criticism about their treatment of the press — Clinton, because of her lack of press conferences, and Trump because of his recently lifted order to blacklist certain news outlets from events.

In the call Thursday, Clinton spoke for approximately 10 minutes, spending half of the time answering two questions from students, both of whom were unaffiliated with news outlets. Initially, the call was scheduled to last an hour, but due to a delay in start time, lasted about 20 minutes. Campaign staffers spoke for the other half of the call, highlighting their involvement with the campaign and relevant past experience.

LSA junior Collin Kelly, chair of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats, said in response to the call that he thought Clinton reaches out to voters by addressing them directly.

“Secretary Clinton has been focusing on her message to the American people whether that is through going across the country to listen to their concerns or by talking to reporters and the media, like she did in her recent press conference,” he said.

On the call, Clinton spoke broadly about the importance of student participation and involvement in the campaign. She encouraged the students to volunteer during the election season and to stay involved after November.

“I’m counting on you in this campaign to take the important issues our country faces … not only in the campaign but after the election as well, to help me fight to make them a reality,” she said.

Clinton also highlighted voter registration drives across the country. Her campaign aims to register 3 million new voters by Oct. 11 — the last day to register for the November election. At the University, College Democrats has been working toward this goal by holding voter registration drives every week. The organization plans to continue doing so until the deadline to register.

Clinton also briefly touched on her commitment to students and her plan to make college debt-free. Her higher education reform plan — the New College Compact — sets the goal of allowing any student attending an in-state public institution to graduate without debt. She also states in the plan that she intends to make colleges tuition-free for families earning less than $125,000 per year, and help those with existing student debt refinance their loans.

Clinton said since Trump has been able to refinance loans —citing his business record — students should be offered the same opportunity.

“If Donald Trump can refinance his loans after bankrupting his companies six times, you should be able to refinance yours with lower interest rates and get this paid off,” she said.