Hillary Clinton cracked a few jokes Wednesday evening on Jimmy Fallon’s "The Tonight Show," but for the most part, the Democratic candidate ditched one-liners in favor of highlighting serious issues.
Millennials may be key to a Democratic victory next fall, and with an annual average of 6.6 million viewers between the ages of 18-34, Mr. Fallon’s show seems like a perfect venue for Mrs. Clinton to reclaim an essential demographic.
"Our challenge is to again excite the passion of the youngest voters," said Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta in May. "After two terms of President Obama, it won’t be easy," he acknowledged.
Fellow Democratic nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is currently king of the young voters, according to a recent study from online textbook company Chegg. Since early June, their polls show Clinton's support among college students plummeting from 40 to 18 percent support, while Sanders's support has climbed from 26 to 59 percent.
"Do you have any idea what it's like, to work so hard for something, to be so close getting it, then someone pops out of no where and tries to take it all away?" Clinton asked Fallon in the show’s opening skit.
Fallon, who was impersonating Donald Trump for the skit, replied, "Are you talking about Bernie Sanders?"
In New Hampshire polls, Sanders surpassed Clinton on Aug. 25, and the gap has been growing ever since, according to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics. As of Sept. 16, RCP showed Sanders beating Clinton by 10.5 points.
So Clinton used her time on "The Tonight Show" to redirect attention to her agenda.
"Trump has immigration, Bernie Sanders has big business, what would be your issue that defines your campaign?" asked Fallon.
"Raising American’s incomes, getting more money into your paycheck so you can have a better chance, a better shot," Clinton responded, drawing audience applause. "We've got to get out from under the twin problem: that college is not affordable and the debt is just so burdensome. So I’m addressing both."
Clinton also stressed her views on gender equality. The show aired after the second GOP debate, where women’s rights and Planned Parenthood funding were hotly contested.
"I’ve spent my entire career fighting for women’s rights," said Clinton. "I’ll push for equal pay in the workplace, for protecting woman’s health and reproductive rights, making affordable child care a reality for families. That’s what I believe in, that’s what I’m fighting for."
When Fallon asked Clinton about Mr. Trump, the Republican frontrunner, the former Secretary of State appeared unphased. "He’s making the most of it," she said. "I’m having a good time watching it."
Will the appearance boost her performance among young voters? Perhaps the best summary of Clinton's comedic debut came from the opening skit.
"I’m traveling across our great nation, I’m listening to people’s stories, I’m confident Americans will see I can deliver for them, that they can count on me for them and their families," said Clinton.
And Fallon-as-Trump responded: "You sound like a robot."