Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she struggled to find financial help for college and her enrollment at Michigan State was only possible with good grades and a tuition fee scholarship.
“For me, making sure that college is affordable and that there are opportunities for everybody from small towns and big cities and everywhere in between to go to college is really personal for me,” Stabenow said.
Stabenow spoke to about 40 people at a CMU College Democrats meeting Thursday afternoon and discussed the importance of the upcoming election and why it is so imperative for everyone to get out and vote come Nov. 6.
There are 300,000 people in Michigan alone receiving financial support from federal Pell grants, she said.
Stabenow addressed the recent controversy that has surrounded the lack of debates between herself and her Republican challenger, Pete Hoekstra.
“I agreed to the two debates that are always agreed to in the Senate since the mid-90s,” Stabenow said. “My opponent, rather than sitting down and working out the details and everything, just kept flashing more press releases and doing these empty chair debates. I’m not sure if he got his direction from Clint Eastwood. But he honestly did not want to sit down and actually develop debates.”
Stabenow is in the middle of a re-election campaign against Hoekstra. Recent polls show her running away from Hoekstra, leading by as much as 20 percent in some polls.
Stabenow said she was shocked to see that women’s issues were a prominent issue in election discussions, since she thought Americans had won that battle long ago.
“I can tell you for the women in this room, or guys who have women you love in your lives, I can’t tell if this is 2012 or 1912 when we look at what has been done,” Stabenow said. “I’m running against somebody who said equal pay for equal work is a nuisance.”
Social Security was also addressed, and Stabenow said that if small changes are made to make it solvent then it can be kept intact for the next 75 years.
“Social Security has brought a generation of people out of debt, your moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas,” she said.
Stabenow said Americans have had experience with both parties in power, and that the Republican Party has shown to not be as effective.
“One of the things I think is so amazing, President Clinton said, is the other side is upset that after they created the biggest mess is history, we haven’t cleaned it up fast enough,” Stabenow said.
The importance of voting was stressed heavily throughout Stabenow’s speech, and she encouraged everyone to make sure they were registered or were able to vote absentee.
“We’ve got to make sure that people who have a vision of our country that says we can give everybody a shot, we can move forward, we can out-educate, we can out innovate the competition in the world economy–anybody that believes that, we’ve got to get out to vote,” Stabenow said. “Not the naysayers, they say we can’t do anything anymore. This is about the fact that we can do things in America, and we have got to make sure we get out and vote.”
The senator encouraged everyone to consider their choices before casting a vote come Election Day.
“There’s an election in 12 days and really, the question on the ballot I think it really is are we going to go forward or backward,” she said.