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Planned Parenthood President Rallies Student Phone Bankers at Dartmouth

  • Alex Lopez, a Clinton Campaign field organizer, passes out fliers for Maggie Hassan's senate campaign to Dartmouth freshman Julia Florman, left, as Dartmouth senior Freya Jamison, middle, and other volunteers make phone calls to voters in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, October 25, 2016. The volunteers gathered for a half hour to contact registered Democrats before hearing Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, speak in Carson Hall on the Dartmouth College campus. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • After an appearance at a Clinton Campaign phone bank in Hanover, N.H., Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, middle, talks with Dartmouth freshman Alex Rounaghi, of Laguna Beach, Calif., left, after his question about how the current partisan divide is affecting the national conversation about Planned Parenthood, Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Dartmouth freshman Garrett Muscatel, of Los Angeles, Calif., is at right. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, spoke to volunteers in a phone bank for the Hillary Clinton campaign at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, October 25, 2016. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2016 12:14:49 AM
Modified: 10/26/2016 6:40:51 PM

Hanover — In the Clinton campaign’s latest bid to drum up swing-state support among young voters, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night rallied student phone bankers at Dartmouth College and encouraged them to get out the vote.

“Young people are going to determine the next president,” Richards told the crowd of about 50 (most of whom were women) listening in a Carson Hall classroom. “I think that’s actually pretty exciting.”

After a beat of silence, Richards prompted them: “Yeah? Right?”

“Let’s get a pulse here,” she said, drawing some laughs.

With the Clinton campaign sending high-profile supporters to New Hampshire in droves, it remains to be seen whether they are generating the necessary excitement among students.

“I’ve noted the effort,” said James Park, a freshman from northern Virginia.

Park, who was studying in the nearby Novack Cafe earlier that afternoon, said he had watched a string of Clinton surrogates make their way to campus in recent weeks: Bill Clinton, Connie Britton and Kirsten Gillibrand, among others.

This is Park’s first election, as it is for many other Dartmouth students.

He said his sense was that his peers were more likely to vote based on the controversy surrounding the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, than the substance of Clinton’s policies or her campaign’s get-out-the-vote attempts.

“The general feeling is that the people here aren’t so fond of Trump,” he said. “But outside of that fact, I don’t think they particularly favor Hillary.”

Teddy Romeyn, another first-time voter who said he supported the former secretary of state in the Democratic primaries, wasn’t so sure.

“We don’t necessarily support her because of opposition to Trump,” said Romeyn, a senior.

Whether Clinton will bring out the same number of young voters as Bernie Sanders might have drawn as the nominee is an open question, however.

“It’s tough to say,” Romeyn said, pausing to think. “I think she will. But the main problem is getting up and doing it.”

Sophomore Michelle Chen, who also plans to cast her first ballot for Clinton in November, said it couldn’t hurt to play off the brash billionaire’s penchant for divisive remarks.

“Mobilizing voters to vote against Trump is not super hard,” she said.

Richards, on the other hand, focused on Clinton’s qualifications in her remarks to students on Tuesday.

“To me,” she said, “(Clinton) is someone who has spent her entire lifetime standing up for people who needed a voice.”

The Planned Parenthood president’s first inkling of this notion came during Clinton’s tenure as U.S. senator for New York. Richards credited Clinton with widening access to the so-called “morning-after” pill by withholding support for the next director of the Food and Drug Administration until the senator got the concessions she wanted.

Richards also urged students to vote down the ticket — especially for Maggie Hassan, the Democratic governor of New Hampshire, who is running in a tight race for U.S. Senate against incumbent Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.

Without mentioning Ayotte’s name, she noted that the senator “has voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Richards also harked back to the founding of Planned Parenthood, contrasting women’s rights in 1916 to now, where the country faces the possibility of its first female president.

Back then, she said, “everything was illegal, basically”: women weren’t allowed to vote, for example, or, in many states, have abortions.

Even providing access to basic information about contraception was illegal, Richards said, which was why activist Margaret Sanger found herself in jail after opening the first Planned Parenthood clinic, in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.

What did Sanger do? She started educating the prisoners about birth control, Richards said.

“And that’s where the movement began,” she said.

After Richards made her appeal, students lined up across the room to speak to her.

Some, such as senior Freya Jamison, got back to making calls.

Upon learning that the person on the line — apparently a Dartmouth student — came from Washington state, Jamison encouraged the prospective voter to register in New Hampshire instead.

“It’s super important to vote here instead of Washington,” she said. Hassan and Ayotte are locked in a dead heat in New Hampshire, she said, and Washington, for its part, was “pretty set” for the Democrats.

She thanked the student and hung up.

Roughly 50 other students participated in a phone-banking session before Richards’ talk, Clinton organizers said, and another was scheduled later that night.

In an interview, Richards said that for incumbents in close elections, past attempts to defund Planned Parenthood were among the “highest polling negatives,” and noted that Ayotte hadn’t emphasized her own votes on the campaign trail.

“That’s just not a popular position to take, frankly, in those swing states,” Richards said.

Richards, who is the daughter of Texas’ second female governor, Ann Richards, said she couldn’t remember any presidential election offering a clearer choice for women than this one.

“I can’t think of one,” she said. “Ironically, not even because of gender. I think it’s just (that) Hillary has been such a strong advocate for women’s rights in every area.”

By contrast, she said, “I can never remember a presidential candidate with the kind of attitudes toward women that Donald Trump has shown — not only in the past and in the present.”

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.


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