President Obama resumed his campaign Tuesday at the exact hour Republicans began their convention activities – as Obama starts a three-state trip this week that his campaign hopes will steal some of the national spotlight and help win over college-age voters.
Obama began the trip at Iowa State University with a full-force plea to hundreds of students for their vote, just as he did in 2008.
“It’s all up to you,” Obama said amid a backdrop of students in yellow or red Iowa State T-shirts. “I’m asking you one more time.”
Obama is locked in a tight re-election bid against Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who arrived Tuesday morning in Tampa, Fla., for the storm-shortened GOP national convention, scheduled to conclude Thursday after he accepts the party’s nomination.
With about 10 weeks remaining before Election Day, both candidates are looking for every possible voter – including 18- to 24-year-olds, who turned out four years ago in record numbers to help elect Obama.
About 49 percent of them voted in 2008, compared to 47 percent in 2004 and an historical rate of about 40 percent.
In his roughly 32-minute speech on the Ames, Iowa, campus, Obama touted a list of accomplishments for which he gave the students credit while taking a jab at Romney and the convention.
He cited increases in student aid and less dependency of foreign oil during his term, then told the students: “You made that happen. You made that change.”
Obama said the convention “should be a pretty interesting show” and predicted to those in the crowd that Republicans will not offer “a path forward.”
The president also suggested Republicans refer to Romney’s health care plan as “Romney Doesn’t Care” – a comeback for critics calling his health-care reform law “ObamaCare.”
Obama speaks later Tuesday at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colo. He will be in Virginia on Wednesday for a rally at nTelos Wireless Pavilion, in Charlottesville, Va. The campaign wanted to hold the rally at the University of Virginia, but school officials turned down the offer, saying it would disrupt the first week of classes, and they did not want to pay for extra security.
In Iowa, Obama also attempted to cut off critics’ argument that college students should not vote again for him, considering the country’s high unemployment rate that has left many recent college graduates unemployed or under-employed.
“They’ll tell you that if you believed in change four years ago that you were foolish,” the president said. “They hope you’ll be discouraged and stay away (from the polls) this time.”