President Obama, DNC seek student vote
September 12, 2012
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A disappointing jobs report issued Sept. 7 by the Labor Department contrasted starkly with the picture of hope and progress that President Barack Obama sought to paint with his Democratic nomination acceptance speech Sept. 6.
The three-day Democratic National Convention featured speakers such as first lady Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton and congressmen Al Green, with a keynote address by San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, which was no doubt meant to rouse Latino support in crucial battleground states like Nevada and Colorado.
Michelle Obama spoke eloquently of her husband and his travails in the Oval Office.
“After so many struggles, and triumphs, and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined I have seen that being President doesn’t change who you are,” she said. “It reveals who you are.”
Perhaps the most vocal — and most effective speaker on behalf of the current President — was Clinton, who forcefully defended President Obama’s economic policies while deriding the “Republic narrative,” calling it an alternate universe.
“We think ‘we’re in this together’ is far better than ‘you’re on your own,” Clinton said.
Clinton also spoke of student loan reform and President Obama’s initiative to grant more money and support to community colleges for job training.
“The President’s student loan reform is more important than ever,” Clinton said.
“It lowers the cost of federal student loans, and even more important it gives students the right to repay those loans as a clear, fixed, low percentage of their income for up to 20 years,” Clinton said. “No one will have to drop out of college again for fear they won’t be able to repay their debt.”
President Clinton hammered home his message with an appeal to young voters and students claiming, “this will change the future for young Americans.”
At a viewing party in West Hollywood, a portrait of Barack Obama on the wall of a restaurant watched serenely as politicians, actors and ordinary citizens made their case for his re-election.
“Young people need to care,” Kristina Apgar, actress and regional field organizer for the Obama campaign, said as she smiled and checked people in at the door. “It’s vital for young people to care because their education is on the line.”
She emphasized the need for greater attention to primary education as well saying that a good elementary education is a necessity to getting into a good school.
Apgar also noted that Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education, has focused his efforts on expanding job training at community colleges.
Apgar made clear she is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Obama campaign as a whole, but that she was speaking as a private citizen.
President Obama’s speech was noteworthy for its trademark rhetoric of soaring hope and grand promises, like creating a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.
However, it was tempered by what the President described as his own failings. Such deference proved prudent as the Labor Department reported 96,000 new jobs created in August — fewer than expected.
Numbers for June and July were also revised downward. The unemployment rate meanwhile dropped to 8.1 percent, though the drop is attributed to almost 360,000 people who left the labor force.
Whatever momentum President Obama may have gained from his convention speech is likely to be blunted by the jobs report released a day after his address. He will certainly look to regain it during the first Presidential debate on Oct. 3.