President Barack Obama set off on a college tour on Tuesday intended to recapture young voters' enthusiasm heading into the height of his re-election campaign.
The president told an audience of Iowa coeds that they should be more invested in his campaign than any other age group, during a stop at Iowa State University in Ames.
"The truth is you've got more at stake in this election than just about anybody. When you step in that voting booth, the choice you make in that one instance is gonna shape your country and your world for decades to come," Obama told about 6,000 students. "I know that's a pretty heavy idea to lay on you on a Tuesday but it's true."
Obama warned that his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, if elected, would enact policies that would be detrimental to college-aged students and recent graduates, seizing on Romney’s opposition to the national health care law, which has allowed students up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.
"Gov. Romney promised that sometime between taking the oath of office and going to the inaugural ball he'd sit right down, grab a pen and kick 7 million young people off their parents' plan by repealing health reform," the president said.
Playing on the Republicans’ derisive term for the law – "Obamacare" – the president said, "Maybe we should call his plan Romney Doesn't Care. Because I do care."
Speaking in front of thousands of enthusiastic college students is an unusual route for an incumbent to take while his opponent’s party is kicking off its convention, but the president took a full-steam-ahead approach, even taking a jab at the Tampa confab during his Iowa speech.
“It should be a pretty entertaining show,” Obama said. “It will be and I’m sure they’ll have some wonderful things to say about me,” he continued, referring to Republicans gathered in Tampa.
The president’s three-state college tour, which after Iowa takes him to Colorado and Virginia, taps into two key elements of his 2012 re-election strategy: winning a combination of battleground states as well as repeating his lopsided victory among college-age voters.
By the end of this trip, the president will have visited five colleges in August alone, all of them in key swing states: Rollins College in Florida; Capital University in Ohio; plus the three schools in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia.
The good news for Obama in recent polling? He’s still leading Mitt Romney 52 to 41 percent among young voters, a key part of his winning 2008 coalition.