He's desperate to rekindle an old romance, and taxpayers have the high privilege of financing his dates:
President Barack Obama will take a two-day, three-state trip this week to visit college campuses and talk about student loan interest rates. The trip is billed as an official one, paid for by taxpayers. But the Obama campaign is also capitalizing on the trip, touting the president's student-loan message and drawing contrasts with Mitt Romney. The cross-pollenization between the president's official duties and his campaigning for reelection already has drawn sharp rebukes from Republicans. The White House denied on Friday that politicking had anything to do with scheduling the trip, to the swing states of North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa. But it would seem that didn't preclude politicking off of the trip.
The campaign is holding a conference call Monday about his student-loan push with Obama 2012 policy director James Kvaal, Senate Education chair Tom Harkin and a financial aid director from Stonehill College in Massachusetts. "While the President is calling on Congress to stand up for our college students, Mitt Romney and the Romney-Ryan Budget would undercut them," the campaign said in a release. "Romney’s policies don’t just hurt students and working families, they hurt our ability to grow the economy." Obama is scheduled to visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Iowa on his official trip Tuesday and Wednesday. In his (official) weekly address on Saturday, the president said he will be talking to students about making college more affordable, and about pushing Congress to pass legislation to prevent interest rates on student loans from increasing.
Much to some conservatives' chagrin, Romney endorsed Obama's temporary student loan rate patch yesterday, which could defang Obama's carefully-laid plan of attack. (For an explanation on why the policy is ultimately counterproductive, read this). The entire purpose of raising this issue is to distract young voters from the shambolic economy over which this president is presiding. After rewarding Obama with landslide support in 2008, younger voters are now suffering disproportionally under his leadership -- a fact that the Romney campaign illustrates in a single, devastating infographic:
This brutal data is laid out in even more excruciating detail by The Atlantic's Derek Thompson. Will Millenials again rally to Obama's banner, or will their own economic malaise break the spell? New polling suggests that young voters continue to favor the president over his Republican opponent, but by much smaller margins than four years ago:
With the general election approaching, Barack Obama has grown his lead over likely Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to seventeen points (43%-26%), a six point larger margin than seen in IOP polling in late November/early December (37%: Obama; 26%: Romney). Obama leads Romney among 18- to 24- year-olds by 12 points (41%-29%) and 25- to 29- year-olds by 23 points (46%-23%).
While still robust, Obama's 17-point lead with young voters isn't especially impressive, considering that he crushed John McCain within this demographic by 34 points in 2008. Another poll of youth voters pegs the president's lead at a paltry seven points. The One's fainting-spell-inducing magic is on the wane:
A survey released Thursday showed that only 34 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds are "satisfied" with the Obama presidency. More than half -- 51 percent – said they were either "disappointed," "worried" or "angry," according to the survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University's Berkeley Center.
Team Obama is well aware of these challenges, of course, which is why they've orchestrated this week's dog and pony shows. Hey, at least Barack Obama will satisfy his insatiable craving for enthusiastic applause from acolyte-filled audiences -- and at no cost to his campaign! No wonder his cash-on-hand advantage is so enormous.
UPDATE - Heh. Check out how deeply committed Senator Obama was to the "crucial" issue he's now exploiting to terrify young voters:
In 2007, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama missed two votes on the student loan interest bill that he now wants Congress to extend. Obama twice skipped the Senate vote on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act when the bill came to the Senate floor first in July and again in September of 2007, according to public records.
In fairness, Obama was already a part-time Senator at that stage. Who has time for actual governance when there's another rung of the political ladder to climb?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography