TEMPE – Chelsea Clinton on Wednesday spoke at a rally Arizona State University’s Tempe campus where she talked about college tuition and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan.
“She was our family’s breadwinner,” Chelsea Clinton said. “I remember the day my mom wrote her last check to pay off her student loans. That was such a major moment in our family’s life.”
Chelsea Clinton, 36, is the second in a string of Democratic public figures to visit the potentially purple state this week. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Northern Arizona University on Tuesday, and first lady Michelle Obama is expected to speak Thursday.
Arizona is a battleground state for the first time in 20 years since Bill Clinton ran for reelection. In a Cronkite News/Arizona Republic/Morrison poll, voters statewide favored Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump by 5 percentage points.
Chelsea Clinton has been a public advocate for her mother, introducing her run in both the 2008 and 2016 campaigns. The only daughter of the Clintons lives a relatively private life outside of the presidential campaign.
The Memorial Union ballroom, which can hold 1,000, was capped at 700 attendees. The crowd whooped and hollered in support throughout the event.
Mary Ann Polve, 67, traveled from Mesa to watch Chelsea Clinton speak. Polve, who said she wasn’t allowed to vote in college, cast a ballot for the first time in 1972 after the 26th Amendment was passed. She said it’s surreal to be on a college campus with young voters.
“It’s exciting! You guys have an opportunity I didn’t have,” she said.
Although she is a registered Republican, Polve said she will split her ticket. She, her mother, her daughter and her granddaughter will vote together.
“We’re all supporting Hillary.”
The statewide poll was conducted from Oct. 10-15 and included more than 800 likely voters. Thirty-nine percent said they plan to vote for Clinton, while 33.9 said they plan to vote for Trump. Undecided voters made up 20.7 percent of likely voters — down just 2.2 percentage points from the Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll in August. This question has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
“The fact that Arizona is a battleground state comes at no surprise to people who are here,” said Austin Marshall, president of the ASU Young Democrats. “Arizona is ready to turn blue. Demographics are changing.”
Marshall spent four days organizing the event that brought Chelsea Clinton to ASU. He said her visit is part of an investment the Clinton campaign is making in Arizona to turn it blue.
In her speech, Chelsea Clinton discussed her mother’s College Compact Plan and how long it took her to pay off student debts.
The plan promises to make tuition more affordable for students and vows to give more debt relief to college graduates.
“Being too intimidated by the cost of education should not determine what your dreams are or your professional pathway,” she said. “I think that’s a pretty significant difference between my mom and her opponent.”
Chelsea Clinton did not talk much about Trump, but before her speech ended, she encouraged Arizonans to vote Democrat in the national and local elections to turn the traditionally Republican state blue.
“Arizona is never going to be taken for granted again,” Marshall said. “Arizona is always going to be a battleground where people have to actually come out and make some effort here. It’s not going to go easy for the GOP like it used to.”