Romney, Obama see eye-to-eye on student loans
April 23rd, 2012
01:37 PM ET
11 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. Dean

    If young voters are so smart, let's see if they learned from the mistake they made in 2008.

    April 23, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I wonder if voters in 'Red States' are ignorant enough to vote for the personhood candidate and biggest liar ever, Mittens the money launderer. Why yes they are.

    April 23, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. king

    Hey mitten better watch himself, its only so much the right lunatics in the repubs party can take. Lesson mitten small government, and private sector intervention, this is what the right winged folks have been beating up Obama with for the past 3 years, and since you've gone over to the dark side, we don't believe anything you spew when trying to moderatize your possition, because we all know you are severely right wing nut.

    April 23, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Dr. Knowitall

    The government working hard to make college more expensive while claiming to make it more affordable.
    Why not go the better route. Get rid of tenure, communist professors, bowling classes, and any cousre that ends in the word "Studies"

    April 23, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. the Situation

    Does Romney have any original idea that he made himself?

    April 23, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Investment Advisor

    @ Ray E...Your comment is precise and to the point! Also, I notice that the people posting the majority of these left leaning comments do not spell very well. I will allow some of the mistakes to be the result of "fat-finger syndrome". The rest, I have to assume, is the result of formal education or lack of it. The cure....blame the GOP.

    April 23, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Wake up people

    Is this Mittens' strategy? To follow the President around and either mimic his policies or bash him? And this is the guy that the rethugs have representing them?? What a joke they have become. The founding fathers have rolled over in their graves so much, they are probably in China by now.

    OBAMA 2012!

    April 23, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    He just doesn't "get it", does he?

    April 23, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. KCRick

    Romney has a point, the best thing he can do for young graduates is help create an environment for good paying jobs. I hope this past four years has been a lesson for those who graduated in 2009 and beyond. They really took it in the shorts for underemployment/unemployment. It all sounded good on campus guys and gals, now that reality has set in, don't re-elect this president. Hope and change is now "I hope you don"t change your mind!"

    April 23, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. me

    Who wants to bet that Romney changes his mind within 72 hours?

    April 23, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney will agree now to get their vote, but will throw that support out along with the Obamacare for students if he wins. Trust me on this one.

    April 23, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. K3Citizen

    The republicans feel that education is only for snobs so whatever they have to say isn't important.

    April 23, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. tibs

    The best thing the government can do to lessen student loans is to stop giving them.

    If you go into a college classroom and ask the people who could afford college without government loans to raise their hands, you might get one, maybe two hands. Schools can raise the tutions to whatever they want and the government will keep writing checks. If they stopped, schools would be forced to cut costs drastically. What programs dont we need? Which professors salaries can be cut? Who is not a vital part of our school?

    I was in college in 2008. The year of the largest crises in decades, and my school raised tution 9%.

    These programs only help the bureaucracies of our education system at the expense of the students. College has been dumbed down as the price has sky rocketed.

    April 23, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. B

    Mitt "Etch-A-Sketch" Romney is really shaking things up!

    April 23, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. James

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

    Really, then why didn't Obama do anything about it for 3+ years rather than pander right before an election?? He certainly railed at corporations and their salaries but never once at the skyrocketing education costs and the salaries...

    April 23, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. rla

    Hmmmm government back loans that students can't afford, college raise prices , government gives more loans??? What's not to like???? Wow are these kids stupid or what as this administration buys their loyalty and ruins a good part of their life

    April 23, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Nothing like a huge government pool of money to drive prices through the roof. They've done it with healthcare and now college education. Students funding their college from potential future earnings (aka mortgaging their future) only makes sense if the jobs will be there to repay those loans and make more.

    Obama and the Democrats have almost guaranteed that won't happen with their failed economic policies that have kept the economy one step away from another recession and pathetically small job growth. Should Obama and the Democrats get another 4 years to destroy the country's economy, the kids might as well learn a trade like plumbing.

    April 23, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. demwit

    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..

    April 23, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. FED up

    Both of them are trying hard to gain support from younger voters. Unfortunately for both of them the college kids are supporting Ron Paul. A college education doesn't really matter if our leaders bankrupt our country. Neither does trying to raise a family, owning a business etc. Obama made a pile of promises to this voter demograph in 2008 including ending the war, balancing the budget, closing guantonamo bay, ending the patriot act, etc. NONE of his promises have been met. Obama is definately worried about the young vote. Romney still has to beat Dr Paul in the GOP race. Even if he does, both of them will STILL have to beat Dr. Paul in the general election as Paul will run on the Libertarian ticket. And YES both Obama and Romney know it. Obama does not have the luxury of blaming George W. For everything this time and Romney is just another corporate clown.

    April 23, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    More Follow the Leader from Mittens. When one is the candidate clearly lacking in orginal ideas on ANY subject of voter interest one either (A) Criticizes the ideas of the leader in the race, (B) Lies about the merits of the ideas of the leader in the race, or (C) Says " Me Too!" to whatever is being espoused by the leader in the race. Any way you cut it Mittens is barely adept at following, he is totally out of ldepth when it comes to leading. The best he can do is either "steal" an idea or get on board with one espoused by his opponent.
    Obama 2012. Because Mittens just truly sucks America.

    April 23, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. RealityBites

    2/3 the youth vote in 2008
    1/2 the youth vote in 2012
    Down 16.6%.., must be those pesky math and science students using logic again.

    April 23, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Hey, Willard "Me Too" Robmey, who do you think our COLLEGE students are likely to believe, you or the man that's been going to bat for them against the like of you?
    By the way, speaking of being embraced by the college community, how's that Liberty College darn-near-disinvite working out for you? Just getting started Mittens, just getting started. It's going to get worse before....well, before you lose.
    Obama 2012. Because nobody wants to buy what Mittens is selling for $50,000 a pop!

    April 23, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    someone who knows what its like to pay high interest rates on his college edumacation..

    April 23, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Severely Moderate

    How many more bad polls will it take for Rmoney to get in touch with ordinary Americans?

    Previously Rmoney had said colleges would eventually be forced to compete by lowering their tuition costs. He is now in favor of extending relief on student loans.

    The perfectly lubricated weather vane continues to rotate.

    April 23, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Ahhh yes... college kids. Or as Obama prefers to call them, future government money sources. You all will have fun paying back all those loans after paying more than half your income to the government so they can send it to your buddies that partied while you were working your tail off for four years and mortgaging your future to get a degree. Welcome to the Obama reality.

    April 23, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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