Clinton appeals to idealism of college students

By Ken Thomas

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 22 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Obama performed well among young voters in other early states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. By the end of the primaries, he had captured about 60 percent of voters under 30, compared with 40 percent for Clinton.

This time, super PACs such as Ready for Hillary are trying to build on the voting coalition Obama put in place. The group's website encourages activists to use social networks like Facebook and Twitter as an organizing tool, identifying potential Clinton supporters long before a campaign begins.

Since leaving Obama's Cabinet in early 2013, she has visited a number of college campuses, including stops last year at the University of Southern California, Bryn Mawr College and colleges in New York, which she represented in the Senate. More recent visits have included the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Miami.

Clinton encourages students to get involved in the world around them, touching on the themes of equality and opportunity that have been a hallmark of Obama's message.

"It is the work of this century to complete the unfinished business of making sure that every girl and boy, every woman and man, lives in societies that respects their rights no matter who they are, respects their potential and their talents, gives them the opportunities that every human being deserves, no matter where you were born, no matter the color of your skin, no matter your religion, your ethnicity or who you love," she said at Miami.

Clinton is scheduled to address students and faculty members at Boston's Simmons College and the University of Connecticut next month. Also planned is a speech at a women's conference on the campus of San Jose State University in California.

How young voters perceive Clinton could shape how Republicans would challenge her.

Some potential Republican candidates, most notably Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have raised the Monica Lewinsky scandal of Bill Clinton's presidency, an imbroglio that happened when many current college students were barely in preschool.

Others have hoped to paint a generational contrast between Clinton, 66, and a likely younger Republican field that could include Paul, fellow Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. All came of age during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Republicans also have signaled their interest of using Clinton's post-White House life, in which she often travels by private jet and is paid six-figures for speeches, to portray her as far removed from the daily problems of most Americans.

When the former first lady told auto dealers in January that she hadn't driven a car since 1996, Republicans pounced, offering it up as a sign of someone out of step with most voters.

The ability to relate to others, Republicans contend, could be a potent argument with many young voters and recent college graduates, who have endured high unemployment during the slow economic recovery.

"It's hard to make the sale that Hillary has firsthand experience of the problems that young people are facing with the economy," said Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising, a Republican super PAC that has tracked Clinton's every move.

Online: Clinton Global Initiative University: http://www.cgiu.org Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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