From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
TAYLOR, Mich. -- McCain is "out of touch" with people who struggle to pay for college, Obama told a small group of students during a town hall at a community college outside Detroit Tuesday.
Obama argued the Arizona senator cared more about helping big business than helping students pay for higher education.
"I do not accept an America where you can't achieve your potential because you can't afford it; where two million qualified students will pass up college this decade because they can't afford it," he said. "Now, this isn't an issue that you hear Sen. McCain talk about that much, because when it comes to education, Sen. McCain, I believe, is out of touch with the situation of many hard-working Americans.
"It's not just that he doesn't have a real plan to make college affordable; it's that he's voted time and time again to stop us from making college affordable. A couple of years ago, he even voted against funding for students, so he could protect billions of dollars in corporate tax loopholes. Well, that's not the kind of change that people of Michigan are looking for. That's not the kind of change that will strengthen our middle class or make America more competitive."
He went on to lay out his plans to offer a $4,000 tax credit to help students pay for college in return for public service and to require the federal government to provide all federal student loans.
Painting a rival as "out of touch" with the concerns or beliefs of ordinary Americans is a common tactic. Obama has pointed to McCain's tax proposals, which will benefit wealthy Americans most, as an example of his not understanding the needs of middle-class Americans, while McCain and the Republican Party have sought to portray the Illinois senator as a liberal elitist who doesn't relate to everyday Americans, because of his stance on issues like gun control, the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and his opposition to a gas-tax holiday.
Obama spent about 30 minutes talking with students about the challenges they are facing in paying their tuition. Before the town hall, the senator met with Marilyn Pace, a student, and Marcus McGrew, a financial counselor at the school. According to a "pool" reporter, Pace said high gas prices had made paying for school more difficult and later began to cry. Obama counseled her, saying, "You're gonna be fine."
(A pool reporter is a rotating reporter who is allowed into various events on the trail and then shares notes with the rest of the press corps.)