Monday, on the eve of the Michigan primary, about 40 students gathered in the Michigan Union in quiet support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The speakers, which included former Gov. Jim Blanchard and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, stressed Clinton's eligibility in a tone that sounded more like a lecture than a pre-primary rally.
Clinton is one of the few Democrats remaining on the primary ballot here. After state legislators decided last summer to move the state's primary forward in an attempt to bolster its influence, the Democratic National Committee voted to strip the state of the delegates it would send to the Democratic National Convention and restrict campaigning by candidates in Michigan.
Now, only four of the eight Democratic candidates remain on the Michigan ballot, with each having pledged not to campaign in the state. As a result, the rally had a decidedly low-key approach.
Governor Blanchard described Clinton as the most qualified of the Democratic candidates because of her political experience.
"I know them all, I'm proud of the field, but I'm for Hillary," he said. "I've never seen anyone grow as she has. Every president has to have the capacity to grow."
Kelly Bernero, chair of Students for Hillary and organizer of the event, explained her support of Clinton in more personal terms. She said Clinton has spoken specifically to the concerns of students, citing the senator's work on financial aid reform and the accessibility of higher education as examples.
"Being a young person, I care about the environment and all Americans having access to healthcare," she said. "And I think Clinton is the only candidate who can do this."
Bernero said Clinton's gender was also an important consideration when she was picking a candidate.
"By the United States electing a woman president, it sends a powerful message to the rest of the world," she said.
LSA sophomore Sam Marvin, a member of Students for Hillary, said his respect for former President Bill Clinton has influenced his decision to support her. She also said Clinton's time as both senator and first lady has prepared her for the presidency.
"We need someone who is ready on day one," Marvin said.
LSA senior Judy Ch'ang said she thinks Clinton's experience is enough to carry her to the White House, echoing the general sentiment of the rally.
"I can only call it political potential," Ch'ang said. "She embodies this change with her experience and leadership skills. She is ready to do something for America."
© 2008 Michigan Daily via U-WIRE