President Obama is taking no chances with young voters. He is campaigning hard on college campuses to make the case that he cares about young people’s problems and deserves their support.
Obama visited the University of North Carolina and the University of Colorado Tuesday, followed by a well-received appearance on “Late Night” will Jimmy Fallon, a show that is popular among young people.
[See pictures of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.]
Obama is scheduled to give an address at the University of Iowa Wednesday.
His goal, Democratic strategists say, is to promote his proposal to limit the cost of college loans and reduce student debt by freezing current interest rates offered under a federal loan program for middle-class and poor students. Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney agrees with the interest-rate freeze, but Obama, by using the presidential bully pulpit, stands to gain far more attention.
Obama said he and the first lady are no strangers to the issue of debt and weren’t able to pay off their student loans until eight years ago. “I didn’t just read about this,” he said at UNC. “When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt. When we got married, we got poor together.”
His remarks seemed designed to contrast himself with Romney, who came from a rich family and whose father was an affluent auto executive who later became governor of Michigan.
The three campuses that Obama visited are in swing states that will be crucial in the November election.
In 2008, Obama won young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 by a two-to-one margin over Republican nominee John McCain. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey found that Obama leads Romney among young people, 60 percent to 34 percent. But young people’s enthusiasm for Obama has faded since 2008, according to various polls, partly because of high unemployment among recent college graduates.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News & World Report and writes “The Presidency” column for the U.S. News digital weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.