Politics

Ahead of Kentucky’s May 17 Democratic presidential primary, Chelsea Clinton stopped in Lexington on Friday to stump for her mother, Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to about 200 people crowded into Clinton’s storefront field office, the younger Clinton called this year’s presidential election the most important of her lifetime.

“If I think about healthcare or education or our economy or women’s rights, I worry that all of that is currently under threat,” she said.

During her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Clinton took 65 percent of the vote over Barack Obama in the Kentucky primary election, though Obama was already the presumed nominee.

Hillary has a big lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the delegate count: 2,165 to 1,357, with 1,243 still available. The candidates need to get 2,383 delegates to secure the nomination. Kentucky is expected to send 60 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

During Friday’s event, Chelsea Clinton criticized the Republican presidential candidates for engaging in “hate speech” against Muslims and pushing to “take away a woman’s right to choose.”

She also took several shots at the conservative elements of Kentucky’s state government, including Gov. Matt Bevin’s promise to dismantle the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, and Medicaid expansion.

“Kentucky’s undergone more experimentation under the Affordable Care Act than any other state,” she said. “My mom realizes we need to protect the gains that have been made under the Affordable Care Act.”

Chelsea Clinton said that Sanders’ proposal for universal free college was unrealistic because states would have to devote money towards the scheme, which conservative-led states like Kentucky might not be inclined to do.

Bevin recently signed a state budget that cuts higher education by 4.5 percent over the next two years and 2 percent during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The cuts are the latest in nearly a decade of reductions to Kentucky’s higher education institutions.

Clinton said her mother believes public community colleges should be tuition free and that those who go to other higher education institutions should be able to graduate debt free.

Former Gov. Martha Layne Collins, the first female governor of Kentucky, and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes attended the rally.

Grimes introduced the younger Clinton, saying “I am ready to see a female president in Washington D.C.”

“I think we have folks who are committed heart and soul to making sure we don’t just have cracks in that glass ceiling, we finally shatter it,” Grimes said.

Though Democrats have a majority of voters registered in Kentucky, the state hasn’t voted in favor of a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton’s re-election race in 1996.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.