With the first presidential debate just hours away, attention will not only focus on the candidates themselves, but on who they invited as supporting guests for each of their campaigns.
Clinton’s almost exclusively-female guest list includes women who have been positively impacted by her support both personally and professionally.
Clinton has often been criticized for appearing cold or unemotional, and has herself acknowledged these criticisms. Her debate guest list, which includes some who spoke on her behalf at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July, may serve to remind viewers of a more personable and approachable side to the candidate.
Here’s a look at guests expected to attend tonight’s debate on Clinton’s behalf.
When Aleatha Williams was 8-years-old her mother Patricia encouraged her to write letters to then-President Bill Clinton and the First Lady after she expressed a desire for pen pals. Williams’ mother was a volunteer for both of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns, and Williams exchanges dozens of letters with the President and First Lady. Then, Williams volunteered alongside her mother for Hillary’s 2000 campaign for Senate in New York.
Williams and Clinton stayed in touch, and while attending a luncheon at Williams’ middle school, then-Senator Clinton made a promise to attend her high school graduation. Four years later, Clinton fulfilled her promise and saw 17-year-old Williams graduate from Pelham Preparatory Academy, a move that Williams said speaks to Clinton’s motivation to act out of the “kindness of her heart.”
Anastasia Somoza first met Hillary Clinton in 1993 as a 9-year-old at a town hall meeting when she spoke confidently to Clinton about how her twin sister Alba’s physical disabilities kept the sisters from being able to attend the same “regular” class. The Somoza sisters have spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy as a result of premature birth, but developed their verbal skills at different rates, which caused Alba to be put in special classes separate from Anastasia.
As a disabilities activist and human rights defender, in addition to being a child of immigrant parents, Anastasia spoke at the DNC of Clinton’s commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities, and children of immigrant families, are empowered with equal opportunities for education and employment. She attributed Clinton’s support for showing her how to “live boldly and with a courageous heart.”
Clinton’s daughter Chelsea has been a strong support on the campaign trail, not only in highlighting the candidate’s more personal side, as seen in her DNC speech, but also in contrasting the qualifications of her mother to the inexperience of her opponent.
Most recently, while campaigning on her mother’s behalf in Michigan, Chelsea talked of Trump’s normalization of hate speech and the high stakes at play in this presidential race. But in addition to criticizing Trump, she spoke of her pride, not only as Clinton’s daughter but as a supporter for a candidate with a plan for addressing important issues:
I’m really really proud to be her daughter […] But I’d like to think, even if I weren’t her daughter, I would be just as passionate about her campaign and just as excited to vote for her. Women’s issues aren’t just women’s issues, they’re family issues, they’re economic issues. She’s the only person who has a proposal to do all that, and she’s the only person who’s said how to pay for that.
Lauren Manning was working as a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald in One World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Manning battled for her life for months, and was severely burned on 82% of her body. She spoke emotionally at the DNC of her fight to physically and emotionally recover after surviving the attack, and how then-Senator Clinton was an unwavering support to her and many others in New York City.
Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and has been an outspoken critic of Trump. In July Cuban endorsed Clinton, speaking to her leadership skills in the face of Trump’s “bluff,” and went as far as to call the Republican nominee “batsh– crazy.” In his endorsement at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cuban stated:
I am ready to vote for a true leader, I am ready to vote for the American Dream. I am ready to tell the world that I am here to endorse Hillary Clinton.
Cuban took to Twitter to confirm that he would be front row at the debate Monday night:
To which Trump responded:
As a single mother and survivor of domestic abuse, 27-year-old Maxine (Max) Outerbridge of Staten Island attended the DNC as part of the New York delegation. When Clinton was officially declared the Democratic party nominee, Outerbridge stated:
It feels surreal. It feels like I’m making one of the greatest decisions of my life. As a mother of an 8-year-old girl, I’m creating a future where female leadership is the norm […] It feels incredible.
The International Business Times reports that as a young single mother of two children and domestic abuse survivor, Outerbridge was able to finish college in part due to Clinton’s childcare policies, namely the Children’s Health Insurance Program begun in the 1990s.
According to The Guardian, Outbridge wrote a letter to the Clinton campaign earlier this year committing her support to the candidate, and Clinton’s campaign invited her to introduce the candidate at a rally in Staten Island.
In August, Clinton penned an editorial to Refinery29, speaking of the incredible women she had encountered during her travels across the country. Clinton highlighted Outerbridge’s story among them:
I’ve seen that same spirit of courage and generosity reflected in so many young women I’ve met across the country […] I see it in Maxine, a young woman I met in New York City. She was a mom by the time she was 19, and she survived poverty and domestic violence to graduate from college and become a certified public accountant. We spoke together at a major campaign event where Max made a passionate case for young women — especially young women of color — to get involved in this election.