In a conference call with student journalists today, Michelle Obama touted the importance of the youth vote to this fall’s presidential election.
“Young people can make a huge difference,” said Obama, “No matter who they are voting for, we need young people to register to vote.”
In 2000, only 36 percent of registered voters age 18-24 voted in the presidential election. That number only increased to 47 percent in 2004.
“This year we have got to turn this trend around and I think we are doing that. Young folks, as well as anyone, know why this matters,” Obama said. “We need all the young people we have met to stay involved and to really stay focused. Young people…will be dealing with the effects of this election for the rest of their lives.”
Obama said her husband’s most important agendas are the economy, healthcare, ending the war in Iraq “responsibly” and investing in schools and renewable energy. She cautioned however, against rash optimism regarding the capabilities the next president will have to make sweeping changes.
“The next president, whoever it will be, will be inheriting a crisis at home and abroad,” she said. “The next president can lead us in a different direction…or the next president could not.”
Overall, Obama stressed the impact her husband’s educational platforms will have on current and future students. Drawing on her experience as a mother, she reminded the gathered journalists that she and her husband will have to prepare for the personal debt of their own children’s higher education.
“Barack and I just paid down our student loans,” she added.
In an effort to distinguish her husband’s platform from that of his Republican opponent Sen. John McCain, Obama stressed Barack’s proposed legislation to increase Pell Grants to $5,100 and his continued commitment to keeping it at “pace with rising costs.”
Obama also promoted the new website www.voteforchange.com, a product of the Obama campaign. It assists potential voters by allowing them to register to vote, find out if they are already registered, register for an absentee ballot, find the nearest polling location and other practical voting information.
Although www.voteforchange.com is paid for by Obama’s presidential campaign, the editors of Mason Votes feel that its non-partisan information is important enough to be featured by our website. We will be linking it from our website. Mason Votes editors have contacted the campaigns of McCain, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr and Ralph Nader in search of similar sites. Only Nader’s campaign provided a similar site, www.votersunite.com, which will also be linked from our website.