Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein certainly knew who she was playing to Thursday afternoon when she pushed her signature campaign issue: eliminating student debt.
The crowd of more than a hundred students at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain loudly cheered Stein when she repeated her campaign pledge to eliminate all student debt and get “Wall Street” to foot the bill.
Stein along with Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be on the Connecticut ballot this November along with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Both Stein and Johnson got more than the 7,500 petition signatures needed to get their names on the ballot.
At the rally Thursday, Stein scoffed at those who said that her idea to forgive all student debt is an unachievable goal.
“All it would take is a small sales tax on Wall Street transactions,” Stein said. “A tax of 0.5 percent would bring in hundreds of billions of dollars to more than be enough to cancel out all student loan debt.”
And to those who claim that a vote for Stein – or Johnson for that matter – is a wasted vote, Stein had this message: “If we got all the votes of all the 43 million people in this country that have student loan debt it would be enough to win a presidential race.”
Warming up to the topic, Stein continued: “It has always been the younger generation that has led us forward on critical issues. Remember Viet Nam? It is not ok for you to be held hostage by predatory student loan debt.”
“This is our gateway issue,’’ Stein said. “We’ve bailed out Wall Street for far less.”
She said her education plans wouldn’t end with forgiving all student debt.
“We should have free public higher education going forward,” Stein said. “No society has survived by devouring its young.”
She said if elected president she would pay for free education by pushing the “Green’s New Deal,” a strategy to establish a 100 percent clean, renewable energy policy across the country by the year 2030.
Doing so, Stein said, would create “a bonanza of good jobs,’’ about 20 million of them, that would stimulate the economy and more than foot the bill for her student loan forgiveness and free education plans.
“There is one place to put your vote,” Stein said, “and you are looking at it.”
Her pitch was met by loud, enthusiastic applause from students and Green Party supporters listening to her speech outside the CCSU student center.
One of those listening, and supporting Stein, was Brian Becker, president of CCSU’s Youth for Socialist Action.
Becker gave a short speech of his own to the crowd, where he urged his fellow students to vote for Stein, who, he said, “would put the needs of the many before the needs and profits of the few.”
Stein was also the Green Party’s 2012 candidate for president and holds the record for most votes ever received by a woman candidate for president of the United States in the general election.
A national Quinnipiac University poll conducted at the end of August found 4 percent of voters support Stein, while 10 percent supported Johnson. Clinton received 45 percent of the vote and Trump received 38 percent in a question that asked about all four candidates.
Another college student, and speaker, at the Stein event was Lauren Shaw, who is also the Green Party candidate for the 38th District House seat in the General Assembly.
Shaw, a senior at UConn’s Avery Point campus, told her fellow college students: “Next year the state of Connecticut is facing a $2 billion deficit. It doesn’t make sense to me. It is because of plain corruption, both at the state level and in Washington.”
“The way to fix this is to choose new solutions,’’ Shaw said. “Don’t vote based on party. Vote on who is coming up with new ideas.”
While the majority of people in attendance at Stein’s events were CCSU students, not everyone there was.
Maryanne Davis, of New Haven, said she is a big Stein supporter. When asked why, she quickly responded: “She’s the only sane candidate.”
“And,” Davis added, “She is not going to get us in wars that will bankrupt our country.”
Also there to support Stein was Steve Miller, of Bridgeport.
Miller said the way he looks at it; there are no options in the vote for president.
“Hillary and Trump are psychopaths,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t vote for them for any job. To vote for them to be president of the United States of America is an absolute, total joke.”