BOULDER – President Obama won the 2008 presidential election riding a tsunami of support from young voters, but his campaign stop Wednesday at the University of Colorado Boulder showed why he may have trouble catching a wave this year.
The Democratic president was greeted by campus protestors from both the left and right.
At a CU College Republicans demonstration at the Dalton Trumbo Memorial Fountain, students held signs with messages ranging from “NObama,” to “Obama gets an ‘F’ in economics.”
“President Obama doesn’t understand the importance of paying back debt,” said junior Brian Ruddle, CU College Republicans treasurer. “The next generation is going to have to pay for all these programs, all of this unsustainable debt.”
Still, the president showed he can still connect with students. He received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd of about 11,000 at the Coors Event Center, the second of three trips in two days to college campuses.The president talked about the importance of attaining a college degree, especially in today’s uncertain economic climate.
“College isn’t just the best investment you can make in your future, it’s the best investment that you can make in your country’s future,” Obama told the crowd. “In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.”
His speech focused on how to prevent the subsidized student-loan rate from doubling in July. In 2007, Congress approved a bill to cut the interest rate to 3.4%, but the rate will automatically revert to 6.8% in July without congressional intervention.
With those between the ages of 18 and 29 making up 19% of the registered voters in Colorado, the youth vote could determine the outcome of the nine electoral votes up for grabs in the upcoming presidential election.
Despite the president’s efforts to appeal to young voters, sophomore Aslinn Scott, vice-president of CU College Republicans, said she doubts Obama will have as much success with student voters as he did in 2008.
“He’s lost a lot of momentum with students,” Scott said. “College students are taking a closer look at the President’s record. He’s providing us with no new jobs, and students are dissatisfied with the job that he has done.”
While the Republican group may have been the most outspoken with their dissatisfaction of President Obama, they were not the only group on campus to express dismay over the president’s time in office.
The Occupy Boulder movement initially organized to protest the president on several issues, including high gas prices, high tuition costs and high unemployment, according to the group’s Facebook page; however, several of the group’s members commented that these issues were not President Obama’s fault.
Instead, the group decided to primarily protest the president’s support of the National Defense Authorization Act, which essentially funds the military.
While President Obama continues to champion the causes near and dear to the youth voter, some students in Boulder remain skeptical of his ability to deliver.
“Some people think that students are naïve and dumb,” Ruddle said. “But a lot of us realize that all that ‘hope’ we had years ago is not transferring into jobs.”