Sep 28, 2016 6:52 PM
NH1 News Political Director
DURHAM - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have teamed up together only twice on the campaign trail since the senator from Vermont endorsed the former secretary of state after she clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.
And both times have been in New Hampshire.
The one-time rivals fierce primary rivals on Wednesday headlined an afternoon event at the field house at the University of New Hampshire that focused on college affordability, as they made their case to millennials, a group that's been slow to support Clinton.
Complicating matters are Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party standard bearer Jill Stein, who've tried to make inroads with younger voters.
"All of you know that New Hampshire is a battleground state. All of you know that this is very a tight election and in fact New Hampshire could decide the outcome," Sanders told the audience. "So I am asking you here not only for vote Sec. Clinton but to work hard get your uncles and your aunts, to get your friends to vote."
"This election is enormously important for the future of our country. It is imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as our next president," he added.
In a nod to the legions of young supporters that helped Sanders crush Clinton by 22 percentage points in the Feb. 9 presidential primary and propel him into a marathon primary battle with her, Clinton called Sanders a friend and touted him as "one of the most passionate champions for equality and justice that I have ever seen."
"Bernie’s campaign energized so many young people, some of you in this crowd, and there’s not group with more at stake in this election than young Americans," she added.
Making college affordable
Of her bitter battle with Sanders, Clinton said "I’m proud of the primary campaign Bernie and I ran. We ran a campaign about issues, not insults. When it was over, we began work together to try to figure out how to take the issues that we agreed on to come together, knowing we were stronger together, to come up with specific policies, in education, in health. Thank you Bernie."
One of those issues is college affordability.
Before July's Democratic National Convention in Cleveland, Clinton and Sanders' came together to hammer out a plan on college affordability that bridged the gap between the plans they ran on during the primary.
On Wednesday, Sanders highlighted the plan, saying "every family in this country earning a $125,000 or less, that is 83% of our population, should be able to send their kids to public colleges and universities tuition free. Make no mistake about it, this is a revolutionary proposal. It means students won’t be leaving college with outrageous amount of student debt."
Minutes later Clinton pledged "I am excited to do what I can to make college affordable."
"If you already have student debt, like so many students have here in New Hampshire, we will help you refinance it. It is absolutely outrageous that you can’t refinance student debt," she added.
Clinton and Sanders teamed up in mid-July at unity rally at Portsmouth High School, where the senator formally endorsed Clinton.
The Clinton campaign told reporters that Clinton and Sanders met privately for ten minutes before appearing on stage together. The spoke in front of what officials said was a capacity crowd of 1,200. The campaign said that hundreds of supporters were turned away because the venue had reached capacity.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, who's challenging Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in one of the most high profile U.S Senate races in the country, addressed the audience prior to Clinton and Sanders. So did former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who's challenging incumbent Congressman Frank Guinta in the 1st CD race. Clinton gave a shout out to both candidates in her speech.
A couple of hours before the event, the NHGOP took aim at Clinton.
NHGOP Jennifer Horn claimed that Clinton has a millennial math problem, explaining "young people don’t trust her any more than anyone else does. We saw in the recent polls that only 33 percent of 18-29 year olds approve of her. This is why she needs to bring Bernie Sanders with her to fill a room at the UNH campus."
“Hillary Clinton can’t win without New Hampshire and she can’t win without millennials. That is a big problem for a Democratic nominee,” Horn added.
President Barack Obama crushed his Republican rivals in the 2008 and 2012 elections among younger voters, according to exit polls. But public opinion surveys indicate that Clinton's lead over GOP nominee Donald Trump among millennials is not so overwhelming.
Most supporters on board with Clinton
NH1 News spoke with nearly a dozen UNH students who backed Sanders during the primaries and are now supporting Clinton's White House bid.
Nearly all of them admitted that while they'll vote for Clinton, many of their friends who also supported Sanders are not all on-board with Clinton.
"I’ve met a lot of former Bernie supporters who are getting on board with Hillary but aren’t so enthusiastic about it," Sofia Hinkles said.
"I’m saying 90% of them are on board with Clinton. The remaining 10% either believe that a vote for Trump will burn the house down and rebuild it from scratch rather than just repair it, or they’re going for Johnson because they think the more libertarian perspective is kind of the answer the country needs," Jake Adams told NH1 News.
Emily Caughlin said 20 "I have a few friends that are supporting Johnson. Not too many that are supporting Stein but mostly they’re for Hillary."
And Alex Buckman shared that some of her friends "are looking elsewhere. A lot are on board with Hillary."
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