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Clinton Speaks About Financial Aid, NAFTA

This story was written by Bob Culp, Daily News
As Sean Astin preached into the microphone about the Clinton family's strong ability to lead, Chelsea Clinton looked down, rolled her eyes in embarrassment at the comments and walked onto the stage, embracing the crowd.

When the former first daughter began to address the room filled with Ball State University students Tuesday about topics such as health care, college affordability and the North American Free Trade Agreement, the slow and steady tone of her voice brought in the crowd at the Atrium.

After a short opening statement, a flurry of hands rose to ask questions about her mother's, Hillary Rodham Clinton's, campaign, which were fielded by the 28-year-old political veteran, who has spent the last 16 years of her life around politics at the national level.

"I think my mom is the best candidate for every issue I can think of," Clinton said with a smile.

The longer Clinton spoke, the more chairs were pulled up around the growing crowd.

Clinton spent time outlining the differences between Sen. Barack Obama's and her mother's stances on the issue of college affordability.

"My mother plans to double the Pell Grant to $10,800, expand the eligibility for a tax credit and develop Americare, an organization developed by my father, to help college be more affordable," Clinton said. "Also, my mom wants to get rid of the FAFSA and allow the federal government to send out student aid information to the families that need it. Doing this would save $4 billion a year."

Clinton said her mother is the only candidate who tells how she will pay for everything she discusses. Hillary's education policy and solutions for the middle class were also addressed by her daughter.

"My mother believes that we need to go back to the higher tax rates of the 1990s," Clinton said. "The people who have done well need to help support everyone."

The war in Iraq remained a hot issue among students and a topic Clinton, who has a degree from Yale University in international relations, willingly answered. With the death toll in the war in Iraq passing 4,000 Monday, Clinton said her mother's plan for Iraq is important.

"Standing up for American values around the world is our responsibility," Clinton said. "Whenever my mom is asked about the war, she says she would have brought the troops home yesterday."

Astin, who has acted in films such as "Rudy" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, told the crowd why he is a Hillary supporter.

"I am very proud as an actor to share my voice and opinion to make the world better," Astin said. "I support Hillary for a number of reasons. Her grace, style and that she is ground breaking for change, and young people are in the vanguard in change."

Travis Schilla, the student organizer for the event, talked to the Clinton campaign and was a factor in getting Clinton to Ball State. With Clinton's visit marking the first candidate to come to campus since Robert Kennedy in 1968, Schilla said, the campaign stop marks a change in Indiana and national politics.

"I think it's huge for us," Schilla said. "I think, overall, people from Indiana and from Ball State don't really feel invested in politics. They don't feel like people care about us. Having a major person coming here that we've all grown up with, I think it will show that the campaign cares about college students."

As Schilla took a deep breath and the crowds began to clear, he said he was excited with how the visit turned out. Around him a general excitement was in the air as Schilla said the future may hold further political speakers as the fight for Indiana delegates continues among the Democratic party.

"I think we are going to see a lot more stuff coming to Muncie wit the primaries coming up," Schilla said. "Muncie is one of the larger cities, and we have a major university here, so it is likely to see more people come our way."
© 2008 Daily News via U-WIRE