Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
President Barack Obama said if students at Ohio State aren’t sick of him visiting yet, they might see him again before November.
In a Tuesday afternoon conference call with student-journalists from across the nation, Obama said the youth vote in the presidential election in November will be crucial.
“The choice that you all face could not be bigger or more sequential,” he said. “I see the kind of changes you guys are able to bring about.”
Obama said that many of the changes his administration was able to bring about, such as reforming health care and ending the war in Iraq, were possible because of the youth vote.
“All these things happened because of you,” he said.
Obama answered one question from The Lantern, along with one question each from student-journalists at Colorado State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Virginia Tech and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Obama won all of those states in the 2008 election. According to Politico, Obama leads Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia in the most recent polls.
Obama said there are more changes to be made with the help of the youth vote, but that bettering our economy isn’t going to be easy.
“Change is tough, it always has been,” he said. “All the programs that we’ve made in our history usually came about through some struggle.”
Alfred Yates, a fourth-year in math and communications and co-chair of OSU Votes, said that students have a lot of power in the upcoming election.
Obama said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who officially became the Republican presidential nominee at the Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, is hoping young people won’t turn out to vote like they did in 2008.
“They’re hoping that young people, even if they don’t vote for (Romney), don’t vote at all,” Obama said.
Romney said the Obama campaign is not winning over college-aged students.
“I don’t see how a young American can vote for, well, can vote for a Democrat,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Chicago in March.
“We’re students at the biggest university in the most important state in this election,” he said. “We should be passionate about it, the simplest way is to register to vote.”
OSU Votes is a non-partisan student group aimed at encouraging students to, and making it easier for them to, register to vote.
Yates said that students can find voter registration forms at the front desks of their residence halls and at the D-tix counter in the Ohio Union. Yates said they are also hoping to set up tables at the Union and RPAC to help students register.
Yates said for many undergraduate students, this November is their first opportunity to vote in a major election, and should take advantage of the opportunity, regardless of who they vote for.
Obama said that in the 2008 presidential election, the youth vote rallied to help elect him.
“I hope once again young people will take the future into their own hands,” he said.
In 2008, 66 percent of people under age 30 voted for Obama, compared to 54 percent that voted Democratic in 2004, according to a study by the Pew Research Institute.
But the Pew study also said the youth were not “crucial” to Obama’s election. Without the youth vote he had, he “would have lost Indiana and North Carolina, but carried other key states such as Ohio and Florida, as well as the national vote,” according to Pew’s website.
Romney spoke in Powell, a suburb about 30 minutes from campus, on Saturday, to a crowd of about 5,000. He has not yet been to OSU, but he did make a stop at Otterbein University in April.
Obama visited Columbus Aug. 21 for a speech at Capital University to a crowd of about 3,300, but not before he stopped in for lunch at Sloopy’s Diner at the Ohio Union.
Obama said at Capital that he was all too familiar with student loans, as he and his wife had only finished paying off their own loans eight years ago.
He also mentioned student loans Tuesday, and said Romney’s solutions to paying for college involve shopping around and borrowing money from your parents.
During his time in office, Obama said he has worked to raise K-12 standards so students are better prepared for college and to make financing more affordable.
About 363,000 students received Pell Grants in Ohio in 2010, and more than 44,000 of those were in Columbus, according to Obama’s campaign statistics.
“Young people are gonna see a real clear choice,” between himself and Romney, Obama said. He asked students if they should go with Romney’s plan, “or do we take the approach that we suggested, which is you guys get help and we keep tuition low?”
The youth vote in Ohio is especially important, Obama said in response to a question from The Lantern, which is one reason he has visited OSU’s campus four times in two years.
“If Ohio is doing well, then America is gonna do well,” he said.
But Obama said his lunch stop last week would not be the last chance OSU students would have to see him before the Nov. 6 election.
“I expect that if you’re not completely tired of me, you’re gonna see me in Ohio State again,” Obama said. “In fact, I think I’ve got a buckeye in my pocket that somebody gave me the last time I was there. I figure that’s good luck going into the election.”
Obama will be in the Cleveland area Monday, according to an Obama campaign official in Ohio.
Kristen Mitchell and Michael Periatt contributed to this article.