Hillary Clinton’s Love Letter to Millennials

In a speech at UCLA, the former secretary of State gushes about how “remarkable” the young generation is.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles as she waits to answer questions from an audience at Chatham House on October 11, 2013 in London, England.
National Journal
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Alex Seitz Wald
March 5, 2014, 1:17 p.m.

In a rare pub­lic ad­dress since leav­ing gov­ern­ment, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton praised the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion, telling stu­dents at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia (Los Angeles) that more needs to be done to help them suc­ceed eco­nom­ic­ally.

Clin­ton spoke ef­fus­ively of the gen­er­a­tion, call­ing mil­len­ni­als “re­mark­able” and prais­ing their vo­lun­teer­ism, am­bi­tion, open­ness, and pas­sion. “It’s part of what makes mil­len­ni­als spe­cial,” she gushed.

She warned there is a “youth un­em­ploy­ment crisis” cre­ated by the weak eco­nomy they in­her­ited, and stressed the need for more op­por­tun­it­ies such as paid job train­ing. She de­cried — to ap­plause from the audi­ence — busi­nesses that have “taken ad­vant­age” of young people with un­paid in­tern­ships.

“We need you. We need your en­ergy. We need your tal­ents. We need your com­mit­ment to par­ti­cip­a­tion,” Clin­ton con­tin­ued. “We can­not let the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion be­come a lost gen­er­a­tion.”

The former first lady will need young people, too, if she runs for pres­id­ent in 2016. The demo­graph­ic helped Barack Obama up­set Clin­ton in 2008, and then pro­pel him to the White House twice. In Iowa, young caucus-go­ers liked Obama over the next-closest com­pet­it­or by a mar­gin of more than 4-to-1, ac­cord­ing to one sur­vey. The mar­gin was smal­ler in oth­er states, but still sig­ni­fic­ant.

It’s the danger head­ing in­to 2016 that Clin­ton “fears most,” Ben Smith ar­gued. On Wed­nes­day, Clin­ton called the 2008 cam­paign “a little bit an­cient his­tory.”

Clin­ton al­lies in the ar­chipelago of su­per PACs that rep­res­ent her de­con­struc­ted shad­ow cam­paign have been in­vest­ing in reach­ing out to young people. And while there’s no doubt she cares about the is­sue on its mer­its, it seems Clin­ton was do­ing a bit of the same at UCLA.

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