Chelsea stumps for her mother

Jenna Staul

About 375 people attend despite weather

Chelsea Clinton answers questions from students and community members about her mother’s campaign and plans for the presidency last night in the Student Center. ABIGAIL S. FISHER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Hillary Clinton’s campaign trail through Ohio led her daughter, Chelsea, to Kent State yesterday where she took time to directly address students’ questions about her mother’s bid for the Democratic nomination in the March 4 primary.

About 375 people braved the blustery winter weather and filled Kent Market II in the Student Center to listen to Clinton field questions ranging from foreign policy and social security to cancer research and anti-war protests.

“I don’t think you should vote for or against my mother because of my father,” Clinton said. “I think you should vote for or against her because you agree or disagree with her vision for America.”

Clinton discussed students’ concerns about the rising costs of higher education, saying the government under her mother’s administration would make college “more accessible and affordable for everyone.”

“She’s the first person to say she’s committed to getting rid of the FAFSA form,” Clinton said. “We don’t want anyone to be dissuaded from applying for aid because the form is too complicated.”

Clinton also discussed her mother’s push for nationalized health care, adding that she championed health care reform during her father’s first presidency before it was a popular subject.

“I’m really proud that my mom has been standing up for a universal health care program,” Clinton said. “And I’m proud she’s learned lessons from when it didn’t work (in the early ’90’s).”

C.J. Williams, president of Kent State’s Students for Hillary organization, said he felt Clinton’s visit to Kent State on behalf of her mother was an opportunity for students to learn more about the Democratic candidate.

“I think it’s just that Hillary can’t be everywhere, and she has a big debate tonight,” Williams said. “Chelsea is really our next best thing.”

Hillary and Barack Obama faced off north of Kent State last night at Cleveland State University for their last scheduled Democratic debate.

Students for Hillary did not receive confirmation from the national campaign that Clinton was coming to campus until Monday morning. Despite the short notice, Williams said he was pleased with the event.

“I’m really happy with the turnout,” said Williams, who introduced Clinton. “We were really stressed this morning with the weather, but we were out fliering and getting the word out. We just hoped for the best, and I think we got it.”

One audience member concerned with her father’s job security at the Lordstown General Motors plant asked Clinton what her mother would do to stop job outsourcing and protect the middle class.

“My mother … will close the tax loopholes that reward companies for outsourcing jobs,” Clinton said, adding that her mother looks to implement reform that will revitalize the auto industry. “She’ll do a lot to protect the middle class and make sure it’s growing again.”

Clinton also addressed ongoing concern about the war in Iraq, saying that if elected, her mother will begin to withdraw troops from the country in 60 days.

“I dispute the notion that we are in one war,” Clinton said. “I agree with my mom when she says we have a war to end in Iraq and a war to resolve in Afghanistan.”

Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser, who was on hand for the event, said Clinton’s stop at Kent State was an important part of her mother’s aggressive campaign in the crucial March 4 primary states of Ohio and Texas over the last several days.

“Obviously, Texas and Ohio are the ballgame,” Reines said. “There’s a lot of energy in Ohio. It was a battleground in 2004, and it will be again in 2008.”

Contact student politics reporter Jenna Staul at [email protected].