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Hillary Clinton makes last-ditch appeal to millennial voters

With a once-commanding lead among millennials slipping, Clinton asks young voters to feel the bern again ... for her
Hillary Clinton hablando ante los jóvenes en Filadelfia. (Imagen por Monica Jorge)

The first sustained applause line in Hillary Clinton's appeal to millennial voters Monday came when she mentioned the man whose passion among youth voters is still the envy of Clinton backers.

"I worked with Bernie Sanders on a plan—" Clinton began, before being interrupted by a loud cheer from the students in the crowd at Temple University. After the Bern had been felt and the applause died down, Clinton was able to finish her point about her proposal to dramatically change students' relationship to college costs.

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Clinton wants to make it easy to graduate from college debt-free and to create new structures for existing college debt that will lower interest rates, tie debt payments to income levels and, she said, "so you're never on the hook for more than you can afford."

The college debt plan is one of a raft of detailed, wonky proposals Clinton has that her campaign says are directly focused on solving the problems faced by young Americans. Clinton's campaign has a robust millennial outreach staff meant to reach the younger end of the electorate — students in school, millennials out of school and in the workforce, young parents, and young people who don't attend college and are looking for blue collar careers.

Clinton's platform includes a lot of the specific issues that galvanize millennials, like a focus on green energy and criminal justice.

"Everywhere I go, young people also share their concerns about the divisiveness and discrimination we see in America today," Clinton said. "You aren't and you shouldn't be satisfied with the progress we've made. We should keep wanting to right wrongs and fight for justice and dignity for all."

Recent polling has shown Clinton's efforts to win millennial minds hasn't worked. So in Philadelphia Clinton tried to capture their hearts.

Clinton lacks the passionate support among young voters candidates like Sanders and President Obama enjoyed. A dip in Clinton support among the millennial set (from 24 percent to just 5 percent lead in August according to Quinnipiac surveys) has been a boon to Republican nominee Donald Trump, largely because they're turning to third party candidates like libertarian Gary Johnson and Green party nominee Jill Stein.

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Monday's speech was Clinton's attempt to bring that support back.

"I also know that even if you're totally opposed to Donald Trump, you may still have some questions about me," Clinton said "I get that and I want to do my best to answer those questions."

Clinton used the language of the generation to show that she understands what young voters want in this election.

"You want something to vote for, not just against. Optimism, not resentment. Answers, not anger," she said. "Ideas, not insults. Bridges, not walls."

The goal, aides told Vice News before and after the speech, was to help make Clinton something other than the lesser of two evils to younger voters.

It's a tough sell for many former Bernie voters Vice News spoke with at Clinton campaign millennial-focused events across the country this weekend.

Clinton campaign aides fault the media and Trump for the dip in her support among younger voters. Trump's rhetoric has been a "distraction," Sarah Audelo, Clinton's millennial vote director, said. The media has given a lot of coverage Trump's rhetoric, which Audelo said has made it hard for Clinton's message to break through.

Clinton made her own version of that pitch in her speech to the millennials turned off by their major party choices in the speech at Temple.

"Politics can be discouraging," she said. "This election in particular can be downright depressing sometimes, but it matters — it really does."