Chelsea Clinton greets an enthusiastic crowd Thursday while campaigning for her mother, Hillary Clinton, at the University of Maine in Orono. The presidential election is "ultimately about our values," Chelsea Clinton said.

Chelsea Clinton greets an enthusiastic crowd Thursday while campaigning for her mother, Hillary Clinton, at the University of Maine in Orono. The presidential election is “ultimately about our values,” Chelsea Clinton said. Photos by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

ORONO — Chelsea Clinton addressed a roomful of her mother’s supporters Thursday at the University of Maine, laying out the Democratic nominee’s case to become the first woman president.

The younger Clinton, a top surrogate for the campaign, spoke for about 40 minutes, taking a range of questions from the audience for about half of that time. She talked about how her mother’s more than 30 years of public service were largely focused on making the lives of working-class Americans better.

Clinton also highlighted how her mother championed less fortunate Americans, stood up for the rights of women and minorities, and worked to strike legislative compromises, even with the most conservative lawmakers in Washington.

“I’m really proud that she does sweat the details, even though her opponent criticizes her for being too prepared,” Clinton said. “Because if it’s your child or your family or the future of our planet, those are (important) details, so I’m so proud of my mom and of her campaign, and even more her life of work and advocacy, because this election is about our future, but it’s ultimately about our values.”

She also addressed how Democratic voters should continue to have political conversations with their friends and family members who may be voting for Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton addressed the anger being expressed by many conservative voters, saying it was important to acknowledge that anger and recognize it because it’s a true emotion. She said much of it was rooted in the fact that many Americans have not seen their incomes grow or have even seen them decline in an economy that’s been slow to expand.

“But I do think if we can continue to take this election out of the ether or the sewer and root it in what actually matters in people’s lives, we will win,” Clinton said.

Still, she said she had to remind herself several times a day of what first lady Michelle Obama told the Democratic National Convention in August: that “when they go low, we go high.”

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES FOR CLINTON

Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, said Thursday that he believes Chelsea Clinton had “her work cut out for her, especially in the 2nd Congressional District given the impact (that) trade agreements her mother has supported in the past have had on jobs in the region.”

Savage also said leaked emails from Clinton campaign advisers that appear to mock Catholics in America could be a problem in Maine, where 20 percent of the population is Catholic. “She’s got a tough job coming up here and trying to win votes for her mother,” he said. “I sympathize with her on what she’s trying to do – the enormity of the task at hand.”

Annaliese Furrowcasement, of Bangor, awaits the arrival of Chelsea Clinton.

Annaliese Furrowcasement of Bangor awaits the arrival of Chelsea Clinton Thursday in Orono. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Clinton also took questions on student debt, detailing her mother’s plans to make college more affordable, including funding college and community college tuition for students from households earning less than $125,000 a year. She also outlined a plan for tuition reimbursement for high-demand professions, including doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers and teachers.

She took a question from Old Town resident Mike Gringas, who said as an African-American male, he was frequently stopped by police when he visited his hometown of Augusta, often simply being asked by police what he was doing in the neighborhood he grew up in. Clinton told Gringas that her mother wanted to take a comprehensive approach to hold law enforcement more accountable for incidents in which people of color are injured or killed by officers – but also to make clear that her actions are not an attack on police, but a cooperative effort to help ease racial tensions in the U.S.

PRAISE FOR CHELSEA CLINTON’S MESSAGE

In an interview, Gringas said he had already voted for Hillary Clinton through early absentee balloting. “I felt satisfied that her and her mother are working with both African-American protesters, but also law enforcement to bridge that gap for more communication,” said Gringas, who works as a behavioral health counselor.

Chelsea Clinton also answered a question about Trump’s sexist comments and treatment of women from Jen Brown, an Old Town mother of five daughters. Brown said what she heard from the younger Clinton was heartening.

“Our country has come so far in human rights, and especially in rights for women,” Brown said. “Trump going in there is just going to throw us way back.”

Chelsea Clinton, campaigning for her mother, talks to the audience in Orono.

Chelsea Clinton, campaigning for her mother, talks to the audience in Orono. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Chelsea Clinton’s visit comes just two days before Trump returns to Maine for his fourth visit since he started his campaign for the White House. He is scheduled to appear Saturday in Bangor.

Chelsea Clinton spoke to about 175 people at Wells Conference Center on the Orono campus. Her visit highlighted a tightening of the polls in Maine’s more northern and rural 2nd District, where Trump has, so far, held a lead.

Anna Foster, a 19-year-old sophomore from South Portland, said she would be voting for the first time in November and she will be happy to cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton. Foster said Clinton’s daughter affirmed Thursday that she was making the right choice.

“I was very impressed. She just has such a thorough knowledge of her mother’s policies and plans,” Foster said. “I liked how she talked about the rhetoric of this political season and how her mother has plans, hopefully if she’s elected, to be able to work to create a country that’s more united.”

‘NOW A BATTLE FOR OUR DEMOCRACY’

State Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz, D-Orono, warmed up the crowd in advance of Chelsea Clinton’s arrival, urging listeners to both volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well as make certain that they vote in November. Tipping-Spitz said the last presidential debate made clear that the stakes are high.

Chelsea Clinton reaches over a rope barrier to greet supporters Thursday in Orono. She was campaigning for her mother in Maine's more northern and rural 2nd District, where Donald Trump has so far held a lead in polls.

Chelsea Clinton reaches over a rope barrier to greet supporters Thursday in Orono. She was campaigning for her mother in Maine’s more northern and rural 2nd District, where Donald Trump has so far held a lead in polls. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“This is now a battle for our democracy,” he said. “We all saw or heard what happened at the debate where one major political party candidate vowed to jail his opposition, if elected. That is something that comes out of the Kremlin during the Cold War or something that comes out of a Third World country, but that is not something that should happen in the United States.”

Just before Chelsea Clinton took the stage, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, also had a few words for the audience.

“The character of our leaders is what their policies emanate from,” Dunlap said.