Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Democratic Party nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited the State College Democratic Headquarters on Wednesday. The event, a “Phone Bank with Chelsea Clinton,” marks the second time this year that a major Democratic Party political figure of the presidential election visited the area following Senator Bernie Sanders’ rally in April.
Hundreds of Penn Staters and local community members of all ages showed up to volunteer their time to make calls to get people to register to vote by October 11 and to get them to vote for Clinton come November 8.
At around 5 p.m., Chelsea Clinton took the floor of the phone bank operation to give a short speech to motivate the local party operation.
“There’s this impression that every young person is engaged in election season,” Chelsea said. “But, we think only 55 percent of 18-24 year-olds are registered to vote. We need to change that equation and changing that starts right here. I hope that all of you will talk to as many people as you can on the on the phones, in your classes, and on the streets.”
Clinton emphasized the importance of this election to her personally, remarking, “This is the most important presidential election in my lifetime.”
Mentioning her own two children, Clinton added, “I know whomever our next president is will play a fundamental role in shaping the future that my kids grow up in. But, I think even if I weren’t a mom, this would be the most important presidential election in my lifetime because everything I care most about is at risk.”
Clinton continuously pressed volunteers to ask their classmates, peers, and even random people in coffee shops, “What do you care about?” Clinton noted how her mother is the only person running for president who recognizes that climate change is real, that the country needs criminal justice reform at the federal and state level, and that equal rights are still a very important issue.
Only once did Clinton hint at the Republican party nominee, Donald Trump, but not by name. “We have someone who wants to build a wall and kick out 11, 12 million people who are here working hard for lives that have given them opportunity for their family,” Clinton said. “We have someone else who is committed to keeping families together and ensuring that anyone who works hard in our country can build a life of opportunity, dignity, and respect, and who then deserves to be respected and treated with dignity in turn.”
Katierose Epstein, a sophomore studying Political Science and Women’s Studies and a volunteer for the Centre County Democratic Party, spent her afternoon phone banking for the Clinton campaign.
“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because she’s supporting me,” Epstein said. “She’s been working for me longer than I’ve been alive.”
Johnna Purcell, the President of Penn State Students for Hillary and an Organizing Fellow for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, volunteers over 30 hours a week for the Clinton campaign.
“Hillary has done so much to improve the lives of women, the working class, and of children in this country,” Purcell said on why she devotes so much time. In 2008, Purcell saw Hillary Clinton speak at Penn State and said the encounter inspired her to devote her career to public service. “I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for seeing Hillary Clinton speak in 2008,” Purcell said.
A Clinton campaign aide noted that in order to mobilize millennial support on college campuses, Pennsylvania Democrats need to talk about raising the minimum wage, tackling student debt, making college affordable, enacting criminal justice reform, combating climate change, and fighting discrimination in the LGBT community. “None of which Donald Trump supports,” the aide added.
Organizers said they hope to mobilize thousands of students in the next few weeks to help with voter registrations, phone banks, and canvassing at local offices and campus headquarters to ensure that Hillary Clinton wins in Pennsylvania and in the general election come November.