Chelsea Clinton: Trump-inspired bullying ‘is real’

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Battle Creek — Chelsea Clinton framed the presidential election as a referendum on Donald Trump’s “hate speech” at a Saturday afternoon rally here designed to boost voter enthusiasm for her mother and Democrats down ballot in this south-central Michigan electoral battleground.

Hillary Clinton’s daughter said Trump’s “main campaign strategy” has centered around racism, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric and criticism of Americans with disabilities and “the almost normalization of hate speech.”

Chelsea clinton meets with some of the 250 supporters that gathered at a downtown Battle Creek rally.

“None of that represents the country that I want to live in,” Clinton told a crowd of about 250 supporters gathered at a downtown Battle Creek community center. “And it’s already having a negative effect on our children.”

As she travels the country campaigning for her mother, Chelsea Clinton said she’s heard countless stories of a rise in bullying, including Hispanic children hearing comments that echo Trump’s vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to stem the tide of immigrants.

“The Trump effect, the rise of bullying in our middle schools, our high schools, even in our elementary schools is real – and it is damaging and it is unacceptable,” Chelsea Clinton said.

Chelsea Clinton’s campaign swing through Michigan on Saturday came as the presidential race has suddenly heated up again after it appeared her mother had built a commanding lead in public opinion polls.

Dr. Ben Carson stumped for Trump on Saturday, making campaign appearances in Grand Rapids, Livonia and in the tailgating lot of Spartan Stadium in East Lansing before Michigan State University and the University of Michigan’s football game.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will be in Metro Detroit on Sunday for two campaign rallies at labor union halls in Taylor and Warren.

On Monday, Trump returns to the state after a four-week hiatus for rallies in Grand Rapids and Warren.

Carol Howes, 75, of Galesburg, attended the rally and said she’s long considered herself an independent voter — until this election. Now she intends to vote Democrat “from here on out,” in part because of Trump’s provocative campaign rhetoric.

“He really brings out the worst in everyone,” Howes said of Trump. “I’ve never seen so much hatred.”

In her speech, Chelsea Clinton focused her message on how her mother would pursue a progressive agenda on social issues, particularly the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“It is still legal in 31 states to discriminate against people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, in housing, in health care and in education,” Clinton said.

A person in the audience shouted out Michigan as one of those states that has not extended anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people.

“I’m not going to name names, but yes,” Chelsea Clinton said. “We have to have strong federal legislation that says this is unacceptable, this is unAmerican.”

Chelsea Clinton framed the presidential election as a referendum of Donald Trump’s “hate speech” at a Saturday afternoon rally at a downtown Battle Creek community center.

Chelsea Clinton also called for a federal ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” a controversial psychological counseling that’s supposed to change a child’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.

“Something I care a lot about now, particularly as a parent, is we have to make conversion therapy illegal,” Clinton said. “It is outrageous. It is child abuse.”

“Part of this election is about who do we want as a role model for our children,” Clinton added.

Before the speech in Battle Creek, Chelsea Clinton campaigned late Saturday morning in Muskegon. She previously made two trips to Michigan in late September to campaign for her mother Sept. 22-23 in Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Flint. On Sept. 30, she was in Traverse City.

Chelsea Clinton did not address some of the controversies surrounding her mother’s campaign over the past week, including the FBI’s announcement Friday that the agency is reviewing new emails related to the private email server Hillary Clinton maintained as secretary of state.

The FBI is looking into whether there was classified information on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced ex-congressman who is separated from longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the Associated Press reported.

Chelsea Clinton also didn’t discuss the double-digit increases in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which has dogged Hillary Clinton’s campaign in recent weeks because of her long defense of the law. She also wasn’t asked by the room full of supporters about those issues.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to fix President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement if elected to succeed him.

Chelsea Clinton talked about her mother’s plan to invest in infrastructure, noting how the Flint water crisis has exposed a nationwide need to replace aging underground water systems.

“The tragedy in Flint is not solitary,” Chelsea Clinton said. “She thinks that’s important because it’s both a matter of economic opportunity ... it’s also important because it is a matter of public health and safety.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek and Democratic state House candidate Jim Haadsma of Battle Creek warmed up the crowd.

Stabenow isn’t up for re-election until 2018, but she said it doesn’t feel that way, given what’s at stake.

“I feel like I’m on the ballot and I feel like my children are on the ballot and my grandchildren are on the ballot and each of you are on the ballot,” Stabenow said. “Everything you care about is on the ballot. Everything you value. Respect for other people. Who we are is on the ballot.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood