COLUMBUS, OH – President Obama unveiled a new line of attack against Mitt Romney over education, casting his opponent as out-of-touch, and claiming he would institute harmful cuts to student loans if elected.
The president seized on comments first made by Romney in April in Ohio, in which he encouraged would-be students to pursue entrepreneurship, even if it meant they would "borrow money, if you have to, from your parents."
“I want to make sure everybody understands, not everybody has parents who have the money to lend," Obama said Tuesday before a crowd of more than 3,000 at Capital University.
While Obama did not mention Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan by name, much of his criticism of Romney’s education policy referred to the cuts to programs, including education, in the Wisconsin congressman's budgets.
“The economic plan my opponent has would cut our investment in education by nearly 20 percent,” Obama said. “It would cut those grants so deeply that one million of those students who we have helped would no longer get a scholarship at all. It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.”
But Ryan’s cuts leave the Republican ticket open to Democratic speculation about what they “could” cut – something the Obama campaign underscored in a radio ad that aired in Ohio ahead of the president’s visit.
“What does it say about Mitt Romney that he chose Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the architect of a budget so extreme it could slash education funding by 20 percent?” a woman’s voice says in the minute-long radio ad.
“Ryan’s budget could cut Pell grants for up to 356,000 Ohio students,” the spot continues.
Ryan has indicated he would maintain a maximum Pell grant level of $5,500 while also increasing eligibility requirements for students looking to apply for a grant.
Obama on Tuesday contrasted that with his expansion of the popular higher education program.
"Since I took office we have helped more than three million additional students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before,” he said.
He also touted what he characterized as a victory over House Republicans in the battle to keep student loan interest rates from doubling, as they were scheduled to at the end of July.
“We fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up over the summer. We won that fight,” Obama said. “Some of these Republican members of Congress would have allowed those rates to double,” he continued, his one allusion to Ryan’s colleagues in the House.
Obama will continue his focus on education this evening at a rally in Reno, Nevada.