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Crowds of CU students and members of the Boulder community waited hours on end, and that was just to get tickets to see President Barack Obama.
Obama arrived to a packed Coors Events Center Tuesday evening and did much more than live up to the incredible hype that was beset on him by his audience. At CU, he was a political boulder that was immovable no matter what the crowd yelled at him.
There was a lot of yelling from the crowd during the speech. From ‘Four more years’ and ‘O-Bam-A’ to ‘We love you Obama’, the president acted with the utmost ease and comfort in front of his fans. At one point in the speech a man from the crowd yelled out ‘We believe in you!’ and the president immediately turned, pointed in the man’s direction and said, “And I believe in you!” which of course led to a huge cheer from everyone in the building.
Although the president fed off the crowd with ease, it was the topic of his remarks that made Tuesday such a memorable night in CU’s history: The future of student loans and the “American Promise.”
“It really is extraordinary,” said Colorado Senator Gail Schwartz before the speech. “It’s exciting because he’s here to talk about the issues that are so important to so many of us. It [the expected rise on interest rates for student loans and CU in-state tuition] is such an important issue, and I know because I worked on CU’s Board of Regents for six years before joining the Senate.”
Obama’s speech was a mastery of every aspect of rhetoric, and like in so many great speeches, he opened up with a great ice-breaker. He told the crowd about how he was at The Sink getting pizza when an older woman freaked out and spilled her yogurt on his suit. He also mentioned how his secret service companion didn’t say a word when yogurt got all over his coat. After being around the secret service in the media area during the entire event, I can confidently say those guys really are stone cold.
But Obama is the exact opposite; he is full of life as a public speaker. What makes Obama such an incredible speaker is his appeal to his audience. Tuesday night it was how he spoke just as much as what he said. He was real, unlike so many politicians. He didn’t say anything that he didn’t know 100 percent, and it was his sense of honesty that made every word he said sound like it was meant for you.
“But here’s the thing,” Obama said. “I want you all of you to know that the degree you earn from Colorado is going to be the best tool that you’ve got to achieve the American Promise.”
He went on to describe what exactly that “American Promise” is.
“That [The American Promise] is the idea that if you work hard, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what the circumstances of your birth; if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your own kids to college and save some money for retirement,” Obama said.
He used his own experiences to get his points across multiple times throughout the speech. Whether it was about Michelle and him paying off their student loans, the joy he gets from coaching his daughter Sasha’s basketball team or his grandfather receiving free college tuition for serving in World War II, Obama had a way of making himself not just the president of the United States, but a friend to everyone listening at the Coors Events Center.
By stepping down from his leadership role through his rhetoric, he was able to connect with the audience in a way that most other politicians can’t.
“There’s my mother,” Obama said. “She was able to raise two kids, by herself, while she was going to school, because she was able to get grants and work her way through school. I’m only here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education. We didn’t come from wealthy backgrounds, but we worked hard and somebody made an investment in us.”
Although he talked a lot about the “American Promise” and the future of the country in general, the real reason why he traveled across the country to various universities on Tuesday was because of the recent rise in college tuition and the congressional proposal to double interest rates on federal student loans as of July 1.
“On July 1st, two months from now, that rate cut [on student loans] expires,” continued Obama. “Interest rates on those loans will double over night starting on July 1st, if Congress does not act.”
So many times politicians will try to bash their opponents and denounce their credibility as a candidate in whatever way possible, but not Obama. Not once on Tuesday night did Obama mention his presumed GOP opponent Senator Mitt Romney, and he even admitted that bi-partisanship on certain issues is completely ridiculous. This kind of humility, to me, makes Obama one of the most incredible politicians in American history.
“Stopping this [the student loan interest rate hike] should be a no-brainer,” Obama said. “Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda. It shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican issue. Just think about it.”
As I was listening to Obama’s speech, I came to realize that politicians are a lot like salesmen in that they’re trying to get us to “buy” their vote. For the 2012 election, it seems Obama has almost the entire CU community sold, solely because of how he feels about the United States of America. This man obviously cares a lot about the people he governs, and he has been in a constant struggle with Congress the past four years standing up for a change that he believes in.
After hearing his speech on Tuesday, I can confidently say that there is no way that Barack Obama will lose in his attempt to get re-elected. There is no one, Republican or Democrat, that has the fire and passion that Barack Obama possesses as a public speaker and as a leader for all people, rich and poor.
“In America, we admire success, we aspire to it,” said Obama. “I want everyone in here to do great, be rich, go start a business, that’s wonderful. We work and we hustle. You study hard to get your degree because you believe in success and individual initiative. But America is not just about a few people doing well, America is about everybody having the chance to do well.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org.