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Hillary Clinton took her campaign for president right to millennial voters on Tuesday, telling a town hall full of YouTube stars her stance on everything from immigration to Donald Trump.
The presumptive Democratic nominee, on a fundraising swing through Southern California, made her pitch to young voters attending a summit sponsored by digital content platform BeautyCon. She told the crowd of 100 popular digital celebrities — who combined boast a social media following of 321 million fans — that she wanted them to get involved with this year’s election.
For Clinton it was an opportunity to get in touch with younger voters, many who have been swayed to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders during the hard-fought campaign. BeautyCon has made its bones zeroing in on a large following, comprised mostly of young women, through conventions and YouTube stars whose digital shows have a massive outreach.
So digital creators like YouTuber Aaron Rhodes, Rachel Levin, Alexa Losey, Jenn McAllister, Teala Dunn (Tealaxx2) and Angel Merino peppered Clinton with questions — and asked their fans to chime in using the hashtag #CreatorsAskHRC on social media. The hour-long conversation, moderated by Dulce Ruiz (known online as “Dulce Candy”), kicked off with a not-so-softball question about her stance on immigration.
“I think the people who should be deported are people who are violent, who pose a real threat to others,” Clinton remarked. “We are a nation of immigrants and we are a nation that has been really blessed by the talents, skills and hard work of people who have come from all over the world.”
Then she took her first stab at the presumptive GOP nominee’s pledge to build a wall and kick out anyone who was illegally living in the U.S.: “The economy would be badly damaged if Donald Trump had his way and 11 million people were deported.”
But Clinton did tell the YouTubers that she understood why Americans were voting for Trump, while also making a pitch against voting for the real estate mogul.
“I am sympathetic to a lot of the people attracted by Trump’s message who are feeling really left out and left behind. They have lost faith in their government, in the economy and certainly in politics and most other institutions and they don’t know how they are going to create a better future for themselves,” Clinton said. “So I am not only sympathetic; I’m looking for solutions. I understand why people are frustrated and even fearful, but don’t look for easy answers and misleading promises that cannot deliver what they’re hoping for.”
She added that “the whole slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is code for ‘go back to the time when a lot of people were not included,’ including women, including African Americans and Latinos and a lot of other people … I am not sympathetic to the xenophobia, the misogyny, the homophobia, the Islamophobia,” she said, “or the sort of dog whistles that Trump uses to create that fervor among a lot of his supporters.”
Sanders was also a topic of conversation. Clinton praised her fellow Democrat, commending his campaign for being “terrific for the Democrats” with “passion” and “energy.”
After answering more questions from web stars ranging in topics from teachers’ salaries to revenge porn, homelessness and mental health, she gave her opinion on the power of social media. “There’s no doubt that social media is a driver of opinions, of commitments, of involvements,” she said. Clinton then remarked of connecting with people through social media channels: “I think that’s part of being a leader in today’s world.”
Asked by a YouTuber what she would do to tackle homophobia, Clinton expressed her condolences to the recent mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando (calling it “both terrorism and a hate crime”) and exhorted, “We have to keep standing up against the homophobia, the hatred, the disrespecting and demeaning of people.” Clinton said she will continue in the fight for gun safety and is “working as hard as I can to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
And the way BeautyCon ended the town hall with the mostly millennial crowd — a selfie, of course. Clinton joined the crowd and declared: “This could be better than the Oscars! We have to send it to Ellen!”
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