(BOULDER, Colo.) — President Obama Tuesday night cast himself as a champion of an affordable college education and drew a veiled contrast with Republican rival Mitt Romney in a speech before an electrified crowd at the University of Colorado.
Calling a college education the “best tool you have to achieve the American promise,” Obama made the case to the crowd of 10,800 students that he best understands the challenges of earning a degree.
We “didn’t come from well-to-do backgrounds. We didn’t have famous families,” the president said of his upbringing and that of his wife, Michelle Obama.
“But it wasn’t just that we worked hard, it was that somebody made an investment in us. That’s what America did for us,” he said.
Though he never mentioned presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney by name, Obama was keen to underscore that he did not come from a prominent family with a significant wealth.
“Michelle and I — we know about this first-hand,” Obama said of the struggle to manage student debt. “This is not something I read about in a briefing book. This is not something abstract to us. We’ve been in your shoes.”
The president is lobbying Congress to extend current interest rates on federal Stafford loans, which are set to double, by law, on July 1. More than seven million college students would face an average $1,000 hike in their payments per year if the extension is not passed, the administration says.
“They have to prevent the interest rates on student loans from shooting up and shaking you down,” Obama said, drawing applause from the supportive crowd.
“Stopping this should be a no brainer,” he added. “We need to send a message to folks who don’t seem to get this. That setting your sights lower — that’s not an education plan. You’re on your own — that’s not an economic plan.”
The rally-style speech inside the school’s Coors Events Center was the second stop on Obama’s three-state battleground tour aimed at appealing to the student vote. He spoke at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill earlier on Tuesday and was to head to the University of Iowa on Wednesday.
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