Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher echoed President Barack Obama’s call for college students to become more politically active at a meeting on campus Tuesday.
About 50 students and community members gathered in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union to watch Fisher speak after a screening of Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Committee rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fisher “came to kind of respond to the president’s message and put it into a local context,” said Matt Caffrey, president of OSU College Democrats. “He’s been crisscrossing the state in this bus tour for a little over the past month.”
Following Obama’s speech, Fisher, the Ohio Democratic senatorial candidate, took the stage and emphasized the importance of voting.
“This election, for me and a lot of my colleagues, could be close enough that we could be looking at our margin of victory right here,” Fisher said, referring to the audience members. “What’s going to make the difference between whether it’s victory or defeat? You.”
If elected, Fisher said he plans to take steps to make college affordable, create internship opportunities for college students and make sure jobs are waiting for students when they graduate.
Now that the two-year tuition freeze at public universities in Ohio has been lifted, Fisher said he plans to give universities incentives to keep tuition from increasing substantially.
“One of the best ways to keep tuition down is to say to every university, ‘In exchange for the funding that you receive from the state, you must put a limit on how much you charge for tuition,'” Fisher said. “Our public universities have to keep tuition at a low enough level so each student can afford it.”
Fisher said he also plans to increase the number of jobs available for graduating students in Ohio.
“We need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that send their jobs overseas and instead give more tax breaks to businesses that produce in Ohio,” Fisher said. “The more jobs that are created in Ohio, the more likely it is that students from Ohio State and other universities will stay right here.”
Students will be more likely to receive jobs after graduation, Fisher said, if they participate in internships.
“The governor and I set aside about $250 million for those kinds of internships,” Fisher said. “To me, one of the best things the federal and state governments can be doing is subsidizing internships for students.”
But during his term as lieutenant governor, Fisher has not demonstrated that he is capable of achieving such goals, said Jessica R. Towhey, campaign press secretary for Rob Portman, Fisher’s Republican opponent.
“Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has failed the people of Ohio, asleep at the switch while Ohio has lost 400,000 jobs, and he’s asking for a promotion?” Towhey said in an e-mail. “No wonder his campaign is losing credibility and supporters nearly as fast as Ohio is losing jobs.”
According to a variety of polls from the past two weeks, Portman has a 13- to 15-point lead over Fisher. Both are vying for Sen. Voinovich’s Senate seat.