Chelsea Clinton takes on women's, LGBT issues at campaign event in Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chelsea Clinton takes on women's, LGBT issues at campaign event in Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Chelsea Clinton takes on women's, LGBT issues at campaign event in Pittsburgh
CP photo by Stephen Caruso
Chelsea Clinton
With 25 days left before the presidential election, Chelsea Clinton — the daughter of Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton — made a campaign stop in Pittsburgh today.

Clinton gave a short speech to a room of about 50 people at an event organized by Pennsylvania's chapter of Women for Hillary at the Rivers Club, the first of two stops today. The second stop was on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.

At the Rivers Club, the 36-year-old former First Daughter focused on her mother’s stances on family leave, criminal justice and the economy — which Clinton defined as not just women’s issues but family issues.

“Every part of the job the president does reflects on our families,” Clinton said. "[The job of the president] impacts families [and] our families’ opportunities and future.”

The focus on women’s issues, and how a woman's role in a family can prepare her for public office, was present from Clinton’s introduction by Erin McClelland, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District. Speaking with a rousing voice, McClelland proclaimed to the assembled crowd that at 50.8 percent of the population, women “are in the majority, [and need to] start acting like it.”

She also attacked her opponent, Keith Rothfus, and the Republican Party as a whole, who she said should be held accountable for their role in the government shutdown of 2013.

“This country needs a mom to come out and say [to Republicans], ‘Don’t make me come up there,’” McClelland said.

Katie Harrison, a 34-year-old Lawrenceville resident and lawyer, while not a mother herself, thought the comparison apt, saying the U.S. needs more “feminine leadership.”

“Moms multitask and get a lot done at once,” Harrison said, which she also saw as useful traits for a president.

Responding to questions from the crowd on education, Clinton restated some of the campaign's talking points. After a question on how a Clinton presidency would affect current and future students, the former First Daughter brought up the proposal of free community college for any student, as well as further efforts to end “limits on dreams, ambition and hard work.”

“Anyone coming from a family earning $125,000 or less should be able to go to state university or college tuition-free,” Clinton said. “[And] no one should ever have to pay more than 10 percent of their income back to loan repayments.”

Daisy Miksch, a Pittsburgh resident, is most concerned with the issue of student debt. But while she appreciates the policies, Miksch said she mostly votes on who she trusts most to make decisions.

“I don’t need her to be charismatic and loud,” Miksch said. “I’m inspired by [Hillary Clinton’s] decades of public service.”

When asked how a Clinton presidency would affect LGBT rights, the youngest Clinton affirmed the campaign's support of marriage equality, and attacked anti-LGBT laws like North Carolina’s bathroom policy which mandates people use the bathroom of their “biological sex.” She then mentioned a new policy to cheers from the crowd.

“We have to make conversion therapy illegal,” Clinton said, referring to the controversial practice of sending LGBT children to therapy to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. After referencing the many professional public-health and social-work organizations that oppose conversion therapy, such as the American Academy of Pediatricians, Clinton then continued that “as a mom, it seems like it’s child abuse.”

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, was sparingly referenced, and mostly when Clinton criticized the candidate’s use of disrespectful and hostile language.

“I certainly never thought I’d see in my lifetime the type of rhetoric that we hear from Donald Trump,” Clinton said, referencing “the daily diet” of racism, sexism, Islamophobia and jingoism coming from the candidate.

“[This rhetoric] has to always be offensive and exceptional,” Clinton said.

While Clinton did not comment on any of the recent Wikileaks documents, some of which mentioned her by name, that have reinvigorated dogged allegations of corruption against the Clinton Foundation and against Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, supporters were not concerned by the releases.

“[The criticism] have been said for so long,” Miksch said, adding that allegations of the Clintons' wrongdoings were only perpetuated because “people start to feel foolish if they don’t buy into it.”

Real Clear Politics' most recent polling average has Hillary Clinton up 6.7 points on Trump. But it’s not just the numbers that make Harrison think Clinton will win the White House on Nov. 8.

“I have more faith in this country than to believe that Donald Trump will be president,” Harrison said.