BOULDER, Colo. – A mountain range in the near distance behind him, President Barack Obama appeared before thousands of just-returning University of Colorado students here, making a play for the youth vote in this crucial Western state.
“I could see folks forgetting to vote. They’re having too much fun,” he said, urging the 13,000 students on CU Boulder’s Norlin Quad to go to the polls. “That’s why you are so important because you’re going to have to set an example to the person next to you in class. You’re going to have to remind them, have you voted yet?”
Students at schools like CU Boulder contributed to Obama’s 2008 victory, with 66 percent of young voters picking him over 2008 GOP nominee John McCain. But recent polls show young voters losing excitement at the prospect of voting at all in 2012, let alone showing up for Obama in as large numbers as they did last election.
Underscoring the importance of young voters in this state, the Obama campaign last week launched a “Rocky Mountain Rumble,” challenging sports rivals CU Boulder and Colorado State University to see which school can register more voters by Election Day.
Obama, who campaigned at CSU last week, noted that the school had “a little bit of a head start” and was already up by 41 registrants. “Let’s get it done,” he urged the CU Boulder students.
The president also tailored his standard campaign pitch to voters of all ages in this mountainous frontier state, hearkening back to its pioneer roots: “The story of America is about going forward. Nobody understands that better than folks in the West, because you know, this was a region that was settled by people who understand, ‘We’re not looking back, we’re going forward. We’re going forward to the next frontier, to new horizons,’” he said.
The Romney campaign released a statement in response to Obama's speech today, alluding to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a top Obama surrogate, who on CBS' Sunday morning show Face the Nation responded "no" when asked whether he could "honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago
"On the same day that the Obama campaign conceded Americans aren’t better off than they were four years ago, the President offered no solutions to the problems facing our country. Instead of taking us ‘forward,’ President Obama is taking us on a path of declining incomes, high unemployment, and trillion dollar deficits. The Romney-Ryan plan for a stronger middle class will spur economic growth, bring back jobs, and turn our economy around," Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said.
The Obama campaign is working hard to recapture the nine votes they won in Colorado in 2008 with a 53 to 44 victory over McCain. Of his eleven trips to Colorado since the beginning of his presidency, eight were in 2012, most of which were political.
Boulder County, where Obama spoke today, handed him a resounding 72 percent in 2008. But there were still regions in the state remain deeply red – after all, President Obama was the first Democrat to win Colorado since Bill Clinton did in 1992.
One such area was El Paso County in the southern part of the state, which voted 59 to 40 for McCain. Before his speech today the president sat down for interviews with two TV affiliates from Colorado Springs, the largest city in El Paso County.
Later Sunday, Obama heads to Toledo, Ohio, for a campaign event Monday morning. He’ll then travel to Louisiana where he will tour damage wrought by Hurricane Isaac.