SALT LAKE CITY — Chelsea Clinton told Democrats in Utah Tuesday that the 2016 presidential election is the most important in her lifetime.
The only daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton grew up stuffing envelopes, answering phones and attending rallies for her parents. She said she didn't know she could care about politics any more until she became a mother.
"I'm here clearly as a proud daughter but also as a mom," said the mother of 17-month-old Charlotte and another child on the way. "I couldn't imagine a better grandmother for my children. I also couldn't imagine a better president for my children."
Clinton, 36, talked up her mother, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, during a daylong campaign swing through Salt Lake City ahead of Utah's presidential preference caucuses next Tuesday.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won his home state Republican primary Tuesday, has town hall meetings scheduled for Friday at Utah Valley University, the University of Utah and Davis High School.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had planned to be in Utah on Wednesday and Thursday but suspended his campaign for the GOP nomination after losing his home state to Donald Trump.
Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, plans to run TV and radio ads in Utah over the next five days.
Chelsea Clinton touted her mother's record on issues such as health care, education, immigration and women's rights and differentiated her from Sanders and Trump.
Delta Air Lines retiree John Bankhead crammed into Hillary Clinton's Utah campaign headquarters along with several hundred other supporters to hear the candidate's daughter talk about her mother.
"I think she's the best person for the job. She's got the most experience. She's qualified from day one," the West Valley man said.
Bankhead said there's a good chance Utah becomes a blue state this year if Trump wins the GOP nomination. He said there's enough people who don't like Trump who either won't vote for the Republican or "maybe they'll come on to our side."
"I think she has a better chance of standing up to Trump than Sen. Sanders," said Sheral Schowe, of Sandy.
Chelsea Clinton lamented what she called the "almost normalization of hate speech" among Republicans. She said the level of racism, sexism, homophobia, Isalmaphobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric is "astonishing."
"We didn't really see a strong level of rebuke and repudiation for what has been said until we got to the point where the KKK entered the conversation," she said.
Heidi Chamorro, a 27-year-old University of Utah law school graduate, listened to Clinton speak at La Puente restaurant where a few dozen Latinos gathered.
Born in Mexico, she can't take the bar exam in Utah and isn't eligible to vote. She said she favors Hillary Clinton because of her stance on the Dream Act, comprehensive immigration reform and higher education.
"I think for the millennials she has been very supportive of young immigrants and very supportive of education. I think that's huge for us," Chamorro said.
Clinton said her mother believes immigrants shouldn't have to wait for health care and job opportunities while Congress puts off immigration reform.
Rhea Cook, of Cottonwood Heights, said she supports Hillary Clinton because she believes in the same things the candidate does. Clinton, she said, would fight for a woman's right to choose and to feel safe.
Controversy over the former secretary of state's handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and use of her family's private email server for her official email doesn't bother Cook.
"I think most of that is trumped up by the Republicans," she said.
Schowe said Hillary Clinton couldn't have a better advocate than her daughter in Republican states like Utah.
In response to a question about whether she would run for office, Chelsea Clinton said people have asked her that since she was young. The short answer, she said, is no, explaining her local, state and national representatives where she lives in New York reflect her values.
"I might feel differently if I lived somewhere else," she said.
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