Chelsea Clinton Visits Swarthmore

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Swarthmore has not had the best track record of receiving presidential figures. Last year former President Bill Clinton was considered but not able to be received by Swarthmore and instead visited Bryn Mawr College. Similarly, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was recently denied a rally at Swarthmore and instead made an appearance at Strath Haven High School.

Clinton fans, however, were rewarded by an afternoon with Chelsea Clinton to represent her mother, brought by the Students for Hillary Clinton group. Since the event coincided with the first day of Ride the Tide, accepted students’ weekend, the audience was mixed with prospective and current students and administrators.

The campus Clinton group initially tried to bring Hillary Clinton to Swarthmore, but member Michael May recognized that it would be logistically difficult. “Chelsea Clinton is unique in that she does not have Secret Service, [so it is] logistically much easier, [and she] usually attracts smaller crowds,” said May. The younger Clinton also frequently visits college campuses to represent her mother.

“Chelsea is one of the most ardent supporters of her mom,” said May. “She gives a unique perspective as a young adult.”

The event was primarily in the form of a question and answer session proceeded by a fifteen minute speech by Clinton. Clinton began the forum by speaking on issues that were directly pertinent to the audience, including increasing financial aid opportunities. Some of her ideas included increasing access to Pell grants and the amount of each grant.

“The Pell grant is $5,400 maximum because my mom helped advocate Pell grant dollars. She wants to radically reform it by doubling it to $10,800 and expanding eligibility,” said Clinton.

Other policy ideas included decreasing interest students pay on their student loans and replacing FAFSA with “a checkbox.” “It is really expensive to administer FAFSA forms,” justified Clinton. Another policy included “forgiving” loans completely. “If you are willing to do a job in the public interest, social interest, community police, that will be service in kind to help pay off loans. If you have any debt after 20 years, then it will be forgiven,” said Clinton.

Clinton briefly spoke on several other issues that were pertinent to college students, including Hillary Clinton’s plan for universal health care.

The main theme of the question and answer session, however, was transparency of financing and reversing the policies set by the current presidential administration. Clinton emphasized removing the No Child Left Behind act and substituting this with alternatives to strengthen public schools based on increasing standards. Additionally, she talked about the Bush administration’s unwillingness to address the issue of withdrawing from Iraq.

Similarly, Clinton highlighted the budget deficit accrued in the last decade and her mother’s policies to bring the country back to the economic situation in the ’90s. “She wants to go back to higher tax rates for people who earn more than $250,000. They were doing pretty well in the ’90s and are doing well now. People who did well should help to build our future,” said Clinton. Other types of financing included increasing taxes on oil companies.

Clinton-supporter pre-frosh Sonali Parasrampuria commented, “I thought it was a unique experience to meet her,” she said. “What I am most impressed by was that [Clinton] was able to answer in depth about her mom’s positions. Hilary’s education and healthcare plan were most impressive to me.”

May was particularly pleased with his group’s ability to “accomplish a lot,” he said. “We brought three speakers earlier on.” He admitted that being a Clinton supporter is difficult, but attributes it to a widespread appeal Obama has for college students. “As I became actively involved with the Clinton group, I started to notice that, as with most college campuses I assume, Obama is more popular,” he said.

May acknowledged the appeal of Obama as a “beautiful speaker, great orator.” However, his support of Clinton is rooted in her policies, particularly in healthcare and education. “Some of these issues are the most important to college students, like healthcare. People are going to be graduating without a steady job or incurring high insurance costs. [This plan is] more effective than Barack’s plan, since [Barack’s plan] does not cover everyone. Ideologically, we have to address healthcare from the perspective that it’s universal. These programs hinge hugely on national debt and immensely on the next election and are of importance to college students.”


  1. 0
    hannah says:

    Israel has not taken any Palestinian land nor ever will. Israel has actually existed for thousands of years, long before you were even born Ferchi.
    All you need do is look in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Holy Bible, or both be my guest. Moses and Jesus Christ both recognised Israel. Since neither of them accused Israel from taking land from the Palestinians, I would say you were pretty arrogant to accuse the US of
    “giving permission” to Israel to take Palestinian land. The Palestinians never had land to to take away from.

  2. 0
    hannah says:

    Israel has not taken Palestinian land. Israel has a God given right to have her existence recognised. Irael, unlike you Frechi, has existed for thousands of years. Kindly read the Old Testament or the New Testament or both, be my guest. However, judging from your factually incorrect remarks, maybe you read the Koran.

  3. 0
    ferchi says:

    “It has never been Hillary Clinton’s intention to obliterate Iran or any other
    country sponsoring terrorists, and hopefully, eventhough America has the facility to do just that, it will never happen. Senator Clinton just wants to point out that terrorist funding countries should be under no illusions as to who is the real boss here, and that is America, that wonderful land of the compassionate, the brave and the free”

    …….A wonderful land of the brave and free? Compassionate? It sounds like you’ve been living under a rock, or simply ignoring the millions of people around the world in each and every country this state has squashed desperately trying to stay on top. If I began to name examples of this, I would die long before ending. It is no more wonderful than it is sneaky, unrighteous, and the most unjust of all, forcing itself violently and manipulatively over other countries, killing presidents who refused to play by their rules, abused, exploited, hell, it still does ( is this its “god given” right too?)…. except no one will admit this blinded by their patriotism….

    “As for Israel, she is not practicing apartheid. Israel is wrestling with an impossible situation, not with Fatah but with Hamas who the MAJORITY of the Palestinians have unoquivically voted into power to lead them. Israel has repeatedly stressed that she desperately wishes for a successful two state solution, for the sake of peace. It looks like the Palestinians don’t want peace, otherwise they to take effect.”

    And as for Israel…Think about this. Would you recognize someone who, given permission by some external third party “gave them permission” to take your land, would you? Would the United States?

  4. 0
    Jeanie says:

    I have to second what Andy said–the slow-motion video posted above of Obama’s demonstrates that the finger gesture was clearly intentional. Obama said something to the effect”and well, Hillary Clinton…” paused, scratched his cheek with his middle finger (seriously, who does that naturally?), gave a few seconds for the crowd to compute what just happened and let them go wild with laughter, then continued.
    This is the same sort of immature, schoolyard mocking attitude that he had a few months ago when he condescendingly told his opponent, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” Is this really a campaign about transcending the conventions of politics? Seems more petty and “negative” than anything the poised Senator Clinton would’ve done, even though she’s a product of the “Washington Machine” (aka, has lots of experience in senate voting, pushing legislation, and working across party lines to achieve real goals) as Obama supporters have claimed.
    BS. Obama is not ready to be president. Give him eight years as Hillary’s VP, and maybe then he’ll know that a) a presidential candidate must take on even the hardest questions (and speak without a teleprompter or prepared speech) and b) that he can’t commit such childish and pathetic gaffes as leader of the most powerful country in the world.

  5. 0
    hannah says:

    Senator Clinton is not scaring other countries. The bully tactics are exlusively reserved for the Republicans. It was the Republicans who lost the respect of the world by waging war against Iraq, respect which Clinton so feverishly wants to reclaim for America. You’re right in saying that the war against Iraq was unnecessary. Clinton would never be another Bush for the simple reason, she would never accuse another country for harbouring or hiding weapons of mass destruction without amassing undeniable evidence
    to support the accusation. Senator Clinton’s remark that America would be able to obliterate Iran was only to serve as a reminder that America is not in any way a soft touch, and that it is up to America to uphold the awsome and yet privileged responsibility of safeguarding the survival of the Planet.

  6. 0
    rsg says:

    Actually, Hannah, the US trying to act like a bully is the last foreign policy move we need. Scaring other countries is only going to alienate us and bring about more conflict. We don’t need another Bush to start another unnecessary war.

  7. 0
    Andy says:

    I suggested people watch the video because it is better to see it for ourselves than read what others say about it. There’s so much animosity against Hillary and when you see this I think you will realize how much is being fed by the Obama campaign at the same time that they say they are above “gutter politics.” This looks like gutter to me — it doesn’t look anything like “think and hope” — but use your own judgment.

    Since the aol version is no longer available, here’s the same speech on YouTube:

    Or if that link is a problem just write in Obama bird Clinton on the YouTube search box.


  8. 0
    hannah says:

    It has never been Hillary Clinton’s intention to obliterate Iran or any other
    country sponsoring terrorists, and hopefully, eventhough America has the facility to do just that, it will never happen. Senator Clinton just wants to point out that terrorist funding countries should be under no illusions as to who is the real boss here, and that is America, that wonderful land of the compassionate, the brave and the free. As for Israel, she is not practicing apartheid. Israel is wrestling with an impossible situation, not with Fatah but with Hamas who the MAJORITY of the Palestinians have unoquivically voted into power to lead them. Israel has repeatedly stressed that she desperately wishes for a successful two state solution, for the sake of peace. It looks like the Palestinians don’t want peace, otherwise they to take effect.
    The reason the Palestinians voted Hamas instead of Fatah is because they do not recognise Israel’s right to exist. How can Israel possibly hold talks with Hamas when they repeatedly fire rockets at them. Israel will never hold talks with a violent terrorist gang like Hamas, who is hell bent on Israel’s destruction. There’s no apartheid on the part of the Israelis, only a totally justifiable lack of trust.The answer is actually very simple. Hamas MUST recongnise Israel’s existance or there will never be peace.

  9. 0
    dsch says:

    Yes, we can totally obliterate Iran. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should, because that is hilariously genocidal. And perhaps Israel should look in the mirror a bit. I definitely believe that Israel should exist, but it’s time for Israel to stop practicing apartheid wrt the Palestinians. Anyway, I’m not worried about Iran nuking Israel because 1. It’s a third world country, I don’t think they’re capable of it and 2. Ahmadinejad sucks, but he’s not the real power in the country, the ayatollahs are, and they’re not as crazy as he is. As far as fingergate (so to speak), I am positive he was just brushing his face. Besides, aren’t there more important issues? That’s a trivial distraction, and we don’t need trivial distractions. I think I’ll just put in a quote from Bill Clinton: Now, one of Clinton’s laws of politics is this. If one candidate is trying to scare you and the other one is try get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope.

  10. 0
    Fer says:

    Andy, the link you provided is “no longer available”. The comments that have been made above are well articulated especially those about Senator Clinton. It is refreshing to hear students speak either in support of Senator Clinton or defend her right and those of her supporters to speak. That has not been the case in this campaign. Now, I am off to vote!

  11. 0
    hannah says:

    Hillary Clinton’s remarks on Good Morning America needed to be said. One ought to sing her praises by justifiably reminding Iran exactly who they’re dealing with here. Clinton wanted there to be no doupt in anyone’s mind that a terrorist funding Islamic country like Iran should not entertain any aspirations about foolishly launching an attack on Israel, they key DEMOCRATIC ally to American in the Middle East. Senator Clinton may be charming and feminine, but make no mistake, she would not have any touchy feely reservations whatsoever in obliterating them, should they attack Israel. Thank God her vocifercation puts the fear of the living daylights into any countries funding terrorists, who show off with their weapons of mass destruction and who think they are mighty enough to get one over the greatest Superpower in the world. No one dares to mess with America, and Hillary, as a potential President of the US must be cristal clear in communicating this fact.

  12. 0
    Finlay Logan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Andy: no one accuses Obama of being crude or making rude gestures because most people are savvy enough to realize that that entire story is pure spin. Even talking heads laugh and say “gee, it must be a slow news day if we’re actually discussing this.” Heaven forfend you ever scratch your face on film.

    Careless gestures, flag pins: who cares? I mean really, who cares? I would say it’s just that *I* don’t care, but last I checked there were 18,000+ angry comments on ABC’s website from people who think that debate was a waste of their time, and an insult to the intelligence of the American people, so I think it’s safe to say that many people don’t consider questions about lapel pins “predictable debate questions” at all. They see questions like that for what they are: pointless diversions from issues that really matter.

  13. 0
    Andy Steele says:

    Let’s treat Chelsea with the respect she deserves for going on campuses that are sometimes very hostile toward her mother. It must be especially frustrating when her mother has been on students’ side on everything from healthcare to student loans to women’s right to choose.

    On the question of whether Sen Obama is articulate — he usually is, which is why it was so surprising that he did not handle the very predictable debate questions well at all. If he had, they would have been considered softballs — offering him the chance to explain about the flag pin, for example, to people who care about that. Since he didn’t, the journalists were blamed!

    But even more surprising, here’s a video of a speech he gave the day after the debate — he not only trashes Sen Clinton, he even seems to be giving her the “one finger salute” — to quote aol.

    I lost all respect for Sen Obama when I saw this. He showed pure contempt for his opponent. Had Hillary done anything like that, she would have been accused of being racist, but nobody accuses Sen Obama of being sexist or rude or crude. Hillary Clinton has criticized Sen Obama, but only on facts (lack of experience) not on this kind of personal level.

    Have any of you seen this video before? Doesn’t it seem hypocritical to say “I’m above politics as usual” and then give a speech like this, complete with finger gesture?

  14. 0
    dsch says:

    Whoa, let’s take a look at the bitter statement again: “It’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment.” Probably not the best possible wording of the underlying sentiment. That remark was actually made at a private fundraiser, by the way, and not at some major rally or on a TV show. Speaking of Iran, let’s take a look at Senator Clinton’s remarks on Iran, made on Good Morning America: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president we will attack Iran,” Clinton said. “In the next ten years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

  15. 0
    hannah says:

    It is ridiculous to think that Obama has oratorical abilities. In saying that small town American’s use guns, drugs and booze as a result of unemployment is about the most undiplomatic thing anyone could say.
    This sentiment is also unfounded. To occupy the office of President of the United States, diplomacy is a vitally important skill, especially in the field of foreign policy. Should The President chose ” the wrong words” to illustrate an important policy, it might very well have disasterous consequences on America. The President cannot afford to “choose the wrong words” when in communication with say Iran. Should he choose his wrong words in such circumstances, they might be interpreted incorrectly, and have the very opposite message of what he really wants to say. His wrong choice of words could prove to be offensive or inflamatory. Such a lack of communication, could have disasterous consequences not only on America but also worldwide. Voting for Obama because he is black, charismatic and young is a foolish thing to do. It would be like saying people ought to be interested in Hillary Clinton because she is white, blonde and charismatic. Perish the thought of making such a fickle observation. One might be accused of being sexist, and racist. It does not matter one bit whether the President of the US is black or white, male or female. What counts is CONTENT, and the essential ability to communicate properly.

  16. 0
    Andrea says:


    Perhaps in the heat of the moment, it seems you misunderstood what I intended to say. There are some, not all, who assume support for Obama is simply due to his rhetoric. If you are not one of these, that message was not for you, and any further comments do not apply.

  17. 0
    Michael May says:

    Neena and Andrea,

    I compliment Barack’s oratorical abilities and I’m condescending? I happen to like Hillary’s position on the issues better, that doesn’t mean I said Barack doesn’t have good positions as well, nor does it mean that he is only appealing because of his “image.”

    By calling me condescending because I like Hillary’s policy positions better is just as limiting as your incorrect assertion that I said that Barack’s supporters are all misinformed.

  18. 0
    Finlay Logan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “his popularity stems not from his sound policies, but instead from his image (black, young, charismatic)”

    Maybe his image gets people interested (it sure did for me), but Obama’s campaign/candidacy wouldn’t have gotten this far if his supporters hadn’t had something to justify their continued involvement. That might be exactly what you were saying, but I just wanted it to be clear (because for some reason, even this far into the race, it isn’t) that Obama is much more than a skillful speaker.

  19. 0
    hannah says:

    Chelsea Clinton’s oration was clear and concise, unlike Obama’s admittedly poor choice of words regarding small town Americans. It is inconceivable that America should choose a president who cannot even string together a proper sentence to illustrate exactly what he wants to say. When you’re President of the greatest democracy in the world, the first thing you MUST know is how to chose your words properly. Imagine it, a few wrong choice of words can be FATAL for America.

  20. 0
    Andrea Cornejo says:

    I agree with Neena in that it hinders Hillary support and supporters to by default write off Obama support as due to his orator skills, it shows an internalized negative attitude, and an unfounded perspective as well. I asked Chelsea a question about the NAFTA agreement, and in my opinion she answered diplomatically, perhaps a little too diplomatically for my liking, I think she about just tiptoed around it, remembering precisely what she said….

  21. 0
    Neena ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gah! I absolutely hate it when people, usually (and unfortunately) prominent Hillary supporters like Michael, assume that any endorsement of Obama is a result of his inspiring oratory skills. Why is my endorsement automatically written off as not rooted in policy, uninformed, etc…? How condescending! (to the say the least).

  22. 0
    Michael May says:

    Michaela, I think your comments are disrespectful and at best subjective, at worst completely untrue. Everyone to whom I’ve spoken enjoyed Chelsea’s talk. Her speaking style is much more subdued than that of her mother or Barack, but it is also one of the most substantive I’ve ever heard from a political figure. She spoke about the issues incredibly well in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others who saw her.

    I said it was “difficult to be a Clinton supporter ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS” (the latter capitalized words Ramya left out for some odd reason). It’s easy to be a supporter of Hillary, because her policies positions are the best for our country and she’s an amazing woman. But, what I said is that it’s hard for many students to come out with their support of Hillary on a college campus because they feel pressure from their peers.

    Finally, something that Ramya also did not point out, is the reason why the administration chose not to host Barack Obama. In reality, it wasn’t even a choice, as it was simply impossible given the logistics. The number of cars, security, and people would have disrupted classes, whereas Chelsea, who traditionally speaks to smaller audiences and who does not have a secret service detail, is much more manageable.

    I actually dislike the way this is presented in the first paragraph, and then the second paragraph says that “Clinton fans, HOWEVER, were rewarded.” I think this event was rewarding and edifying for all members of the community who came to see, what’s wrong with being the most informed? I don’t know if this is just poor wording and structure, or if this is a matter of the reporter allowing her own biases to creep in to the piece.

    Michael May ’11

  23. 0
    dsch says:

    Chelsea was a good speaker for her mother, and I appreciated that she did not go negative on Obama. Fortunately, Senator Clinton has been doing plenty of that.

  24. 0
    Bobby ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Your claim regarding Ms. Clinton’s ‘pathetic job in her attempted speech’ is unfounded. No matter what you feel about Hilary Clinton or her policies, Chelsea Clinton’s oration and her ability to articulately and comprehensibly answer questions was particularly impressive. In fact, your comment serves to diminish Obama’s legitimacy, as it seems his popularity stems not from his sound policies, but instead from his image (black, young, charismatic).

  25. 0
    Michaela Evans says:

    Chelsea Clinton did a PATHETIC job in her attempted speech today. What is it with trying to ask her questions? What an arrogant, arrogant attitude!!

    BTW, to Ramya who wrote this article. You did get one thing correct — “being a Clinton supporter is difficult” —- which is EXACTLY why Senator Obama should have been allowed to visit!!!

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