Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, visited West Chester University to represent her mother’s campaign on March 27 in an effort to raise support and gain votes before the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. Clinton spent her time fielding questions from members of the student body and guests to the University in Sykes Student Union.State Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith, Liz Wilkinson, president of WCU’s College Democrats and other members of the organization were also present.
Clinton responded to questions with her mother’s platforms and stances on the key issues of the ’08 campaign such as the economy, war, health insurance and education. She also seemed to maintain an atmosphere of objectivity, welcoming a small group of McCain supporters to voice their opinions or ask questions as well, a request they did not fulfill, choosing rather to hold their signs in the windows behind Clinton for a few brief moments.
“I don’t see past the April 22 primary,” Clinton said in regard to a question about her mother’s future in this campaign based on her trailing of Sen. Barack Obama in the delegate count. There are a lot of voices yet to be heard and a lot of votes to be cast.”
As can be expected during a college tour, Clinton touched on issues relating to her mother’s proposals regarding both education and college affordability.
“At 28, so many of my friends make career decisions based on having to pay back their college debt,” Clinton said.
Chelsea explained that Sen. Clinton will double college grants to $10 thousand and double tax credits as well, providing extra relief for families of college age children.
Unexpectedly, the war in Iraq was addressed neither by Clinton nor the members of the audience until roughly halfway through the hour-long event. Not surprisingly, Chelsea neglected to address the fact that her mother voted in favor of the war in 2003. However, Senator Clinton did vote against the “Troop Surge” that has drawn media criticism since its inception.
Healthcare has become a hot button issue in recent elections, perhaps even more so during this year’s heated democratic race.
“I’m proud [my mother] stood up for universal healthcare in 1993 and ’94, before it was popular,” Clinton said. She expressed concern about the number of people in this country that do not have any form of health insurance. “I don’t want to live in a United States of America in the 21st century if that’s true,” she said.
Sen. Clinton’s plan for health care will make coverage universal to all Americans and will not be directly related to job-based benefit coverage. Clinton wants to keep the industry privatized, allowing for choices of different providers, yet with much greater federal involvement and subsidization to make healthcare more affordable. Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Obama has a similar plan with slight differences and nuances.
One of the more controversial issues of the Bush presidency has been the creation of the No Child Left Behind Act. Chelsea addressed this issue following a question posed from a retired teacher in attendance.
“We know that we have successful schools in the country so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton has vowed to repeal NCLB and Chelsea pointed out the faults in the bill in terms of performance-based funding for public schools.
Clinton never had a shortage of hands in the air to choose from as a very active audience expressed their views and inquired about national issues. While not all questions could be answered in the time allotted for the event, Clinton’s visit brought a high-profile campaign to West Chester.
“I’m passionate about a lot of things, but I’m not going to have a role in the administration if my mom gets elected,” Clinton said in reference to her “normal” life outside of politics in New York City.
Sen. Obama will join MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at Hollinger Field House on Wednesday night at 5 p.m., giving WCU students a chance to hear from the other side of the Democratic race.
Matt Lombardo is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shane Madden is a fourth-year student majoring in history with a minor in journalism. He can be reached email@example.com.