Pres. Obama promises middle class kids "rungs on the ladder of opportunity"

COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - Pres. Barack Obama began his appearance at Capital University Tuesday by hugging a member of the senior class who had just told the crowd how tough it is to pay for college.

"So like a lot of you, I'm grateful for Pell grant scholarships and student loans," said Steven Debusk, a former pro BMX cycler who got into the university later than the stereotypical college student.

Pres. Obama told the crowd he and Mrs. Obama understood what it's like.

"We paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month," he said. "And that went on for years." In fact, the president said he and his wife didn't pay-off their student loans until about eight years ago.

While trying to portray himself as just another member of this 3,300 person crowd, Pres. Obama sought to make his opponent seem out of touch.

Remember when Gov. Romney suggested to another college crowd at Otterbein University in Columbus earlier this year that kids should ask their parents for a loan? Here's the clip on YouTube.

"We've always encouraged young people, take a shot, go for it," Gov. Romney told them. "Take a risk. Get the education. Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents."

It's a line that Pres. Obama will try to make sure Ohio voters don't forget.

"Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend," Pres. Obama said, as someone in the crowd at Capital University shouted, "Yeah!" and others cheered. "You know," the president continued, "that may be news to some folks but it's the truth."

He also criticized "some Republicans" in Congress whom he accused of dragging their feet this summer on voting to keep student loan interest rates low. However, Republican leaders say the fight was actually about how to make sure the government could pay for it.

What often got the biggest cheers from the crowd in Columbus, though, was not negative attacks on the president's opponents but promises to give their kids a chance to go to college.

Telling the crowd that making higher education more affordable was his mission, Pres. Obama added that he and his wife "believe in it because we've been there and we know that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, young people who are more talented than we are may not get a shot."

Later in his remarks, Pres. Obama wove his economic message into his sales pitch for his education plan and it was greeted with thunderous cheers. Parents in the crowd were likely thinking of their own children when he said, "If they've been working hard, if they've got the grades, they've got the determination to get a better future for themselves, I don't want them to be prevented just because their families were hit hard by a recession. That's not who we are."

But a spokeswoman for Gov. Romney, Amanda Henneberg, says all this is "just more of the same from a president who hasn't fixed the economy or kept his promises to the young people who supported him four years ago."

She says college costs have skyrocketed on Pres. Obama's watch and that his economic policies have made it hard for college graduates to find work.

FOX19 searched for Gov. Romney's college plan on his website and it's not easy to find. However, we did eventually land on this "white paper" that calls for getting the Dept. of Education to simplify the process of applying for financial aid and getting the private sector involved again.

"Reverse President Obama's nationalization of the student loan market and welcome private sector participation in providing information, financing, and the education itself," the position paper states.

Pres. Obama told voters here, though, that "what Gov. Romney's offering is not an answer."

More details about what the president is offering may be found on his campaign website.

Copyright 2012 WXIX. All rights reserved.