From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
DAYTON, Ohio -- Don't be mistaken: Chelsea Clinton hopes her mother returns to the White House. She just thinks she's too old to live with her parents again.
"Sometimes people ask me if I want to move back to my old room," Chelsea playfully told an audience at Sinclair Community College in Dayton yesterday. "One, I don't see past March 4th. I don't take anything for granted. … And two, I'm 27. I love my parents a lot. But I don't want to move back in with them."
Chelsea had been asked about the challenges of once again being involved in the presidential campaign of one of her parents. Earlier, she had mentioned that she did have a private life working and living in New York. "At least did until about five weeks ago," she said. "Yet I do believe this is the most important election of my lifetime. And I believe so strongly in my mom. Not only is there anyone that I love and respect more, but I've seen her work on these issues my whole life, and that's why I'm here."
Rarely, if ever, does she mention Obama's name, instead focusing almost exclusively on her mother's record. Countless times, she has begun a sentence with, "I'm so proud that my mom …," before wonkishly detailing something her mother has done as senator, First Lady or in private life. When any of her comments have been met with a hint of applause, she would stop and prod the crowd: "Yeah, you can applaud for that."
At several points, however, she did slyly dig at Obama on an area of policy disagreement. Discussing health care in Delaware, she said she was proud her mother stood up for universal health care before it was en vogue, adding that, without promising fully universal care at the outset, it would be unlikely that Republicans would allow any worthwhile plan. And in Dayton, when asked about the current administration's "cowboy" diplomacy, Chelsea said her mother would offer a more cooperative approach. "She doesn't support the president dropping into Tehran on January 21, 2009," she added, hinting at a dispute between Clinton and Obama last summer over whether the president should personally engage adversaries in their first year.
Though she was addressing mainly college-age Ohioans all day, most of her answers stuck to the same message one would hear listening to her mother or father. She offered few introductory remarks at each stop, immediately taking questions from the crowd. (By the end of the day, she had taken nearly 50.)
Only occasionally did she put things in personal terms, as she did while discussing health care at Ohio State University. A male student talked about his girlfriend, who had a bone disease, and asked about Hillary's health care proposal. Chelsea talked about the merits of offering a range of health care options instead of just one single-payer system. "What your girlfriend needs is different than what I may need, is different than what I would need when I make my mother happy and give her grandchildren, is different than what my grandmother needs," she said.
What she did repeatedly ask voters to do was to consider the candidates by considering the issues that matter most to them. "I do believe that if people really think about the issues, whatever those issues are, … that people will realize that my mom is the stronger candidate," she said in Dayton. Asked at Ohio Wesleyan University about the chance of going from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton again, Chelsea said voters should consider her on her own merits. "I would hope that you would vote for my mom because of my mom and not because of my dad," she said. "I also hope you don't vote against my mom because of my dad."
Chelsea shows her love for the Buckeye State again today, Valentine's Day, with two more schedule stops. Her schedule then tentatively calls for a weekend trip to the Aloha State, ahead of Hawaii's Feb. 19 primary.
See, campaign life does offer the occasional perk.