Romney, Obama see eye-to-eye on student loans
April 23rd, 2012
01:37 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney, Obama see eye-to-eye on student loans

Washington (CNN) - Call it the battle for the youth vote.

As President Barack Obama heads to three battleground states this week to push for an extension of a law that cuts interest rates on a popular federal student loan program for low and middle income undergraduates, Mitt Romney agreed with him on the issue.

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"With the number of college graduates who can't find work, or who can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans," said the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee Monday, while talking with reporters prior to a campaign event in Astor, Pennsylvania.

The president will visit the University of North Carolina, the University of Colorado and the University of Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday. The three universities are in states Obama narrowly won in the 2008 election and are considered battleground states again in 2012, meaning they are expected to be heavily contested by both parties in the general election.

The president blames Republicans for serving as a roadblock to make college more affordable for middle class families.

"This is a question of values," Obama said Saturday, in his weekly internet and radio address. "We cannot let America become a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of people struggle to get by."

The president wants to extend a provision that keeps interest rates on federally subsidized student loans at 3.4%. The rate passed with bipartisan support five years ago, but is set to expire on July 1. Without the extension, the rate would return to 6.8%.

Obama will also appear on Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show Tuesday to pitch the extension. And his re-election campaign is also pushing for the extension with national and state events.

In a midday conference call organized by the Obama campaign, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said, "This is personal for the president, first lady, and me. We all attended college on loans and worked to pay them off."

The senator noted 70% of all Iowa students graduate with a debt load averaging $30,000.

Harkin, the Senate Education Committee Chairman, was joined on the call with Eileen O'Leary, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and OFA Policy Director James Kvaal.

The push also includes New Hampshire, another battleground state.

In advance of what's being billed by Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign as a major speech Tuesday night in New Hampshire, Granite State Democrats are holding an event where they will slam the all-but-certain GOP nominee for supporting the House Republican budget, which Democrats say would double student loan interest rates.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, is hoping to make a dent in Obama's support from younger voters.

"Ultimately, what young Americans want and need is a new president who will champion lasting and permanent policy changes that both address the rising cost of a college education and get our economy really growing again," said Romney in a statement Monday.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won two-thirds of the 18 to 29 year-old vote in the 2008 presidential election, according to national exit polls. That was up 12-points from the 54% of the 18 to 29 year-old vote that Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, carried four years earlier.

Making sure that younger voters show up at the polls and cast ballots for the Democratic ticket could be crucial to Obama's chances of winning re-election in November. A CNN/ORC International poll released last week indicated Obama leading Romney by a two-to-one margin among voters between the ages of 18 and 34.

– CNN White House Producer Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

Also see:

Giuliani endorses Romney, downplays being running mate

Huntsman compares GOP to Communist Party of China

RNC formally backs Walker in recall


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Church

    Okay, I'll try again. Is CNN blocking?
    Why is Obama raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in states where the voters have decided to provide the PLANT for those who need it (and a few others)?
    He is shooting himself in the foot.
    Many of these reef smokers would normally vote for Obama - but now?

    April 23, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Taran

    For those that can't find jobs, well, they should have done some research into the careers that have openings and not gotten their degrees in "underwater basket weaving." Difficult to feel sorry for someone that got a BS degree and now whines because they can't find a job, except one requiring the ability to say, "would you like fries with that?"

    April 23, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Is Soo Plastic he Makes Mannequins Looks Real

    Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Romney wants to GUT the DEPT. OF EDUCATION!!!

    Now he sees eye to eye with President Obama on Student loans? What a FLIP FLOP!!!

    April 23, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Joe

    "This is personal for the president, first lady, and me. We all attended college on loans and worked to pay them off."

    What a lie! Obama had a full affirmative action scholarship to Harvard. If he took out a loan it was to cover his partying ways..., period.

    April 23, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    Way to go after the college voters, Rmoney. Next time, try to impress them by mentioning that you knew Dick Clark. Trust me on this, it'll go over big.

    April 23, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. rs

    It is a safe bet that if any Republican agrees with Obama on anything, their position will shift almost instantly to something counter and often wacky.

    April 23, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    demwit wrote:

    Great job Obama, America is glad to see someone on our side, someone who knows what its like to pay high interest rates on his college edumacation..
    ---------------------
    Students pay higher interest rates now than what they have in the past solely because of the middlemen GWB inserted into the student loan program when he privatized it. Instead of money to student, it goes money to private bank to student.

    April 23, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Taran wrote:

    For those that can't find jobs, well, they should have done some research into the careers that have openings and not gotten their degrees in "underwater basket weaving." Difficult to feel sorry for someone that got a BS degree and now whines because they can't find a job, except one requiring the ability to say, "would you like fries with that?"
    ------------
    Taran, did it ever occur to you that the research that you suggest students perform was probably performed at least 4 years ago, which was before the whole economy blew up? In other words, whatever answers and conclusions they reached in '06, '07, and '08 are probably invalid today. Didn't you think of that before you wrote that? Or did you repeat it?

    April 23, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Joe

    "This is personal for the president, first lady, and me. We all attended college on loans and worked to pay them off."

    What a lie! Obama had a full affirmative action scholarship to Harvard. ....
    --------------
    There is no such thing as an "affirmative action scholarship" to Harvard. There never has been, not anywhere. Who is supposed to give such a thing out? Did you know that what distinguishes Ivy League schools from most other colleges are the nature of the scholarships the school awards, and accepts as payments for tuitiion. They only accept academic scholarships, and no other types.

    April 23, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Thomas

    @Wake up people

    "OBAMA 2012
    WAKE THE HECK UP PEOPLE!"
    -------

    I am awake. Now looking around at the past 3 years with this man as President I want to go back to sleep. Dang it! I was having such a nice dream! Now I wake to a living nightmare. I gave him a chance when I voted for him the first time. He failed pretty much all his promises minus one or two. I gave Obama a chance because I believed he might change things. He didn't. He and the Democrats had total control for the most productive days of a president's term and failed to do anything that really chanced the way government works. Then when the GOP and the Dems were fighting over the budget he was nowhere to be seen, when he should have been leading. No, no more chances. I'm voting Romney this time. He has a good heart and I know he will actually try.

    April 23, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Obama, Mr. Non-Transparency, needs to come clean on his college years. How were they paid for, what were his grades, what papers did he write. Did he ever take a finance or economics course? The Amercian people have a right to know. Because the results of the last 4 years would have been better with a college dropout at the helm.

    April 23, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Corey

    They both are lying through their teeth. They both "flip-flop like pancakes!!

    April 23, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    So this means Robmey is a Communist/Socialist/Fascist/Muslim born-out-of-the-country, too, right?

    April 23, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    @Taran: "For those that can't find jobs, well, they should have done some research into the careers that have openings and not gotten their degrees in "underwater basket weaving."

    One of our many strengths as a nation is our innovation and research capabilities. If you want to live where the only paths to a job are as engineers, then go live in China or India. While you're there, check out how many patents their citizens own – and of those that do, how many were educated in the United States.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 23, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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