ORONO, Maine — University of Maine senior Robin Pelkey was leaning toward voting for Hillary Clinton, until Wednesday afternoon when she met Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
“She made a big impact on me,” Pelkey, 21, of New Gloucester said after Stein’s visit to campus. “I was leaning more toward Hillary Clinton because I know I don’t want to vote for Donald Trump but I hadn’t fully committed to Hillary Clinton. I didn’t feel super strongly about her, so definitely hearing Jill was really influential.”
So influential that Pelkey, who is studying nutrition, said she will vote for the Green Party candidate in November.
Pelkey was one of about 50 people, most of whom were Bernie Sanders supporters, who filled a lecture room Wednesday in the D.P. Corbett Business Building to hear Stein outline her platform and answer questions.
“I’ve followed Bernie since I knew he was running,” said Donald Johnson, an 18-year-old freshman from Bronx, New York. “I’d planned on voting for him. I was very interested to hear Jill’s policies. She seems like an all-around great candidate to run this country. I’m voting for her.”
Stein, a Massachusetts physician, told the attendees, who ranged in age from college freshmen to senior citizens, that if elected she would forgive student debt, make a college education free for all, implement universal health care, transition from fossil fuel to wind, water and solar energy, and focus the nation’s foreign policy on peace rather than armed engagement.
She also criticized the major parties and their policies.
“It’s a race to the bottom right now between the Democrats and Republicans,” she said.
As Stein later posed with students for selfies, longtime Democrat Cynthia Estey, 67, of Brewer said that she liked the candidate.
“I know I have a choice now,” she said. “For the first time in this whole menagerie of whatever’s going on, I feel like I have a real choice.”
On her website, Stein urges activism.
“It’s time to build a people’s movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe, build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person,” she said. “The power to create this new world is not in our hopes; it’s not in our dreams — it’s in our hands.”
A Colby College-Boston Globe poll released Tuesday showed Stein had the support of 5 percent of the 779 likely Maine voters surveyed between Sept. 4 through 10. She was behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who polled at 9 percent.
The poll showed Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump 42 percent to 39 percent, within the 3.6 margin of error.
Stein was the Green Party’s 2012 nominee for president. She first ran for office in Massachusetts against Republican Mitt Romney for governor as the Green-Rainbow Party candidate. She also was the party’s candidate in 2004 for state representative and for secretary of state two years later.
Stein, 66, who lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois, according to information posted on her website. She graduated in 1973 from Harvard College and from Harvard Medical School in 1979.
She is married to Dr. Richard Rohrer. The couple has two grown sons, who are pursuing careers in medicine.