Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined student organizations across the country in a conference call on Thursday with a sense of both gratitude and — with 61 days until the election — urgency.
“This is going to be close, that’s the way our presidential elections are in America now,” Clinton said.
The call, which the Clinton campaign invited The Lantern to join, was a chance for campaign staff to brief students on strategy, as well as for Clinton to answer questions from students and thank them for their work.
Kunoor Ojha, Clinton’s national campus and student organizing director, went over parts of the campaign’s millennial outreach plans, such as registering voters, having campaign staffers work with campus groups, and recruiting college students as interns.
She also highlighted the fact that millennials nearly match baby boomers as the largest share of the electorate, calling millennials “enough of a voting block as a generation to actually decide the outcome.”
Clinton emphasized the importance of getting millennials to register to vote, and volunteer to register others.
“As you know, we are running a drive to register and convince 3 million Americans to vote by election day – something that’s never been done before – we can’t get there without you,” she said.
Clinton went on to emphasize the seriousness of the voter registration plan’s potential outcome.
“You know the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Clinton. “And I hear from so many young people that the hatred and bigotry we’ve been hearing from the candidate on the other side goes against everything our country and young people – especially this generation – stand for.”
Clinton made it clear her goals extended further than just winning the election. She discussed her plans to address the economy and work toward debt-free college.
“If you have student debt and you want to start a business, I want to put a moratorium on your having to pay back student debt for three years,” Clinton said, citing a story she heard from a college graduate in Iowa, who told her his student loans held him back from becoming a business owner.
Jake Vasilj, a third-year in political science and history and OSU College Democrats president, who was on the call, echoed Clinton’s concerns about the cost of higher education.
“If you’re getting saddled with a lot of debt this early in your career and life, it can make big impacts on the kinds of decisions you make going forward. Secretary Clinton understands that students don’t need to be limited by burdensome student debt,” he said.
And with the election two months away, Clinton is relying on students like Vasilj to convey her message.
“There’s a lot to be proud of, but there’s a lot of work still to do,” Clinton said.