From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
NEWBERRY, S.C. -- Chelsea Clinton spent the day before the first-in-the-South primary stumping for her mother at colleges across northwestern South Carolina, where she took questions from students and voters from nearby communities.
"I am here to take your questions. I do want to make my mom and her campaign more accessible to you as you think about who to vote for tomorrow," she told the audience filling the cafeteria at Newberry College.
The notoriously media-shy Chelsea has been campaigning more extensively for her mother since the Iowa caucuses, in which rival Barack Obama won large part of the youth vote.
In introducing Chelsea, Emily Hawkins, the director of youth outreach for the campaign, told the crowd of about 150 the senator had been outspoken on issues that matter to young people and said that she would be spending part of today talking about a student borrower's bill of rights.
Dressed in jeans and a blazer, the youngest Clinton spoke knowledgeably about her mother's goals and policy proposals, using phrases like "one thing that's distinctive about my mom" and "something I'm really proud about my mom for is," even as she got a little wonky at times, a trait her mother has admitted to having.
She talked about her mother's plans for achieving universal healthcare, her approach to foreign policy, her stance on Darfur and what she would do to help the economy. She managed to hit her talking points, explaining early on what the senator wants to do to help make college more affordable, even though no one had asked a question about it at that point.
She got a warm reception from the crowd and appeared comfortable. She cracked jokes, saying she feels "self-conscious when I'm called Miss" and asking an older gentleman not to call her "Ma'am" -- a common sign of respect in much of the South -- because she's only 27 years old.
Tiphany Valentine, a 21-year-old senior from Charleston, was one of three students who introduced the former first daughter. The students were given simple prepared, non-partisan remarks that included a brief biography, but Valentine skipped the script and spoke instead about why she was supporting Hillary Clinton.
"I think she's focused on us and everyday people," Valentine said, echoing comments she made before the event when she explained "I think shell be able to focus on issues dealing with your everyday American not just country as a whole. The best example, being that I'm a college student, is like trying to find more tuition money for students."
Mashanda Thomas, a 20-year-old junior from Richmond, VA and another of the students who introduced Clinton said she was undecided but leaning toward Obama. She said the two candidates had similar views, but she had been impressed by what the actress Alfre Woodard had to say about the Illinois senator when she came to speak.
"She said a lot of stuff that hit home. Like him being in same predicament. I've been in, like growing up in a single-parent home," said Thomas, who is not registered to vote in tomorrow's contest. She added what she thought was Clinton's main "downfall".
"Bill did a good job. Her downfall is that when people talk about her, they refer to him instead of her," Thomas said.
Toward the end of the event, as students began to leave for class, Chelsea joked that she hoped it was class time and she hadn't offended anyone. As they left, students handed slips to a professor who explainedd that they get credit for a "Fine Arts and Lectures event" for coming to hear people like Chelsea speak.
Chelsea chatted briefly with members of the audience afterwards before heading to the next college in nearby Spartanburg.