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Chelsea Clinton campaigns in Clemson

Madeline Hemmingsen, Staff

Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of Clinton Foundation, visits Clemson for Clinton campaign.

“I think this is the most important election of my lifetime,” said Chelsea Clinton to a crowd of onlookers in Hendrix Student Center. 

“This is the first presidential election I will vote in as a mom, and I didn’t know that I could care anymore about the political process and who runs for office and who holds office until I became a mom.”

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, campaigned in Clemson this past Saturday for her mother Hillary Clinton. 

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and First Lady, is a current Democratic presidential hopeful. Entitled “A Conversation with Chelsea,” the event was originally supposed to be sponsored by Clemson University’s Program in Women’s Leadership. 

“The initial invitation under the Women’s Leadership Department was extended as an opportunity for Chelsea Clinton to speak about women in leadership,” said Bria Burke-Koskela, president of Clemson College Democrats. 

“Unfortunately, though, there was a misunderstanding between the campaign and the department, and the campaign began advertising the Clemson event as a ‘Hillary for America’ campaign event.” Burke-Koskela said that state law prohibits universities from affiliating with political campaign events, so the Clemson College Democrats stepped in to sponsor Clinton’s appearance.

“I’m going to sit, and please know that I’m sitting just because I’m pregnant,” said Clinton to laughter. “And it’s not at all a reflection of my enthusiasm or gratitude for being with all of you.” Seated on a wooden stool between the U.S. and South Carolina flags, Clinton spoke about the issues that she considers most important in the 2016 presidential election. 

“The next president will appoint up to three justices in the Supreme Court,” said Clinton. Saying that the debate about the Court often focuses too narrowly on campaign finance reform, she listed women’s reproductive rights, equality for the LGBT community and voting rights as issues that also belong in the debate.

“It matters to me that my mom is the candidate that consistently talks about protecting a woman’s right to choose,” said Clinton. “It matters to me that my mom has been out-front supporting the Marriage Equality Act, and also, while she was secretary of state, she talked about equal rights for LGBT Americans around the world but also for non-Americans around the world.” She said that voting rights still remain a relevant issue in “a time of increased voter suppression.”

Clinton also discussed healthcare, mentioned her mother Hillary Clinton’s failed efforts to pass universal healthcare as first lady. She highlighted her mother’s perserverance on the issue, continuing her advocation until she successfully passed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). She also said that her mother wants to capitalize on what she called the success of Obamacare. “If we open this debate [about healthcare] again, I worry that we will risk all the progress that President Obama has made with the Affordable Care Act,” said Clinton. 

After talking for roughly 10 minutes, Clinton opened the floor to questions.

The first question focused on the money invested in the Clinton campaign by Wall Street donors, and questioned if former New York senator Hillary Clinton will be affected by Wall Street special interests. 

Clinton responded by saying that her mother’s plan for Wall Street, which includes regulations for mortage companies and insurance firms, is tougher than her Democratic opponent Senator Bernie Sanders’ plan. This will, Clinton claimed, prevent the next financial crash instead of only addressing the one of 2008. Other questions were about maternal healthcare, equal gender representation in political office, national defense, immigration reform and sexual assault.

“I think we have a lot to do because campus sexual assault is an epidemic in our country,” said Clinton. She said that in addition to working to prevent sexual assault, universities must “create more hospitable environments so that people feel comfortable coming forward.” 

Clinton advocated for anonymous reporting processes and individual- and community-based treatment for victims of sexual assault. 

Her mother’s plan to combat campus sexual assault involves support for survivors, fair disciplinary hearings and sexual violence prevention education.

“I am clearly a very proud daughter,” said Chelsea Clinton. “But I’m supporting my mom now mainly as a mom myself because whomever we elect to be our next president will play such a fundamentally important role in shaping the world that my children will grow up in, in the country they grow up in.”

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