The launch of Hillary Clinton’s new youth-oriented campaign group, the Hillblazers, adds her to a rapidly growing list of presidential hopefuls who are putting new focus on winning the youth vote.
AU’s chapter of Students for Hillary Clinton, which is affiliated with Hillblazers, was launched in September and has seen a strong rise in membership and interest.
“We are here to raise awareness,” said Nicole Woods, the president of AU’s chapter of Students for Hillary Clinton and a junior in the School of Public Affairs. “Our goal is, basically, to bring Hillary to the students of AU. We have about 60 members right now and are always looking to recruit more.”
Starting Hillblazers was a big priority of Clinton’s, said Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Hillary Clinton for President committee.
“Candidates really want to inspire a new generation of leaders,” he said. “Getting the votes is only part of why these kinds of groups are founded.”
Students for Hillary Clinton is not permitted to fundraise because its standing as a student organization under the AU Club Council prevents fundraising for a specific candidate, but it does promote fundraising events by the Clinton campaign.
There was an event a few weeks ago held at Ibiza, a club on First Street, to celebrate the D.C. kickoff of Hillblazers, according to Woods.
“Events like this, which are geared toward younger voters, are what will help to Hillary to win,” she said. “I think that when people our age clear their minds of outside opinions and listen to Hillary, they are won over by what she has to say.”
Students for Hillary is a great way for college students to get involved in the campaign, said Casey Bessette, vice president of AU’s Students for Hillary Clinton.
“It isn’t very time consuming, and the events that we hold are a lot of fun,” Bessette said. “Nicole and I started the group to spread awareness, and we are already seeing big results.”
Clinton is trying too hard to get the youth vote, said Katie Gale, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I feel like she just does not appeal to people our age,” Gale said. “She lacks vision and energy.”
Young voter turnout is not as high as many in politics would like despite a spike in 2004, McAuliffe said.
“Issues like the Iraq war and other Bush policies had young people passionate about the election,” he said. “I think that a lot of young voters realize that this is their future.”
Lizz Callaghan, a freshman in CAS, said she would definitely vote, just not necessarily for Clinton.
“Hillblazers seems like a good idea, but Hillary just doesn’t have the same energy that other candidates have,” she said. “I think that Barack Obama [D-Ill.] appeals more to people our age because he can make us excited about the future.”