President Obama made his second visit to the CU campus in just over four months on Sunday afternoon, greeting an audience of an estimated 13,000 students, faculty, university affiliates and local residents on Norlin Quad.
The president’s reelection campaign kicked into full gear last week, embarking on his “Road to Charlotte: Highlighting America’s Heroes.” His tour preludes the Democratic National Convention, which takes place in Charlotte, N.C. Sept. 3-6.
Ryan Case, a senior political science major who was featured as Boulder’s American Hero on Sunday, got the chance to introduce the president.
Case told the story of his father’s nonexistent health care after losing his job when Case was a teen and his mother’s struggles with paying for prescription medication before her recent death at the hand of multiple sclerosis.
“At the time, I just kind of thought that was just how things worked – if you don’t have health insurance, you don’t have a job, you’re on your own,” Case said. “But now I know that that’s not how things should be, and the president knows that that’s not how things should be.”
“That’s why he’s worked to reform our health care system and make sure that every single American has access to quality health insurance,” Case said. “There is absolutely no reason why any single American should die from a [preventable] illness.”
Case’s story was well-received. It led into Obama’s statements, stressing what he feels is the pertinence of maintaining the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the president’s landmark health care legislation.
“We believe in an America that doesn’t let how much money you’ve got determine whether or not you’ve got good health care,” Obama said, referencing the parts of the ACA that prohibit discrimination based on salary or pre-existing conditions.
The president talked about the recent Republican National Convention’s featured speakers, including Mitt Romney, who spent more time addressing Barack Obama’s presidency and women’s issues in policy than young people’s issues.
“They talked about me,” Obama said. “But they didn’t talk about you. They didn’t talk about young people and the debt they’re incurring by going to college.”
The subsidized student loan interest rate remains at 3.4 percent for loans taken out in July 2012. This is because the bill extending the rate passed the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this summer.
Calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, freshmen Cheyanne McBirney, an open-option major, and Andrea Tudal, a communication major, attended the presidential visit on Sunday.
“If you live here, why not go?” McBirney said.
Attendees waited for hours in lines that stretched in opposite directions from the west side of Norlin Library for Obama’s 25-minute speech.
Samantha Webster, an 18-year-old freshman biochemistry major, arrived in line at 10 a.m. for the 1 p.m. event.
“He’s a really good speaker, so it was definitely worth standing in the sun for three hours,” Webster said.
Freshmen Alex Trznadel and Joel Ayers were especially interested in attending on Sunday to support Obama’s liberal stance on gay marriage.
“I don’t think that anyone should interfere with that, but I have to pick a side,” Ayers said.
“I wanted to hear what he had to say,” Trznadel said.
It was the third time in history and the second time in 58 years an acting president appeared on the Boulder campus, the last being Obama’s stop at the Coors Events Center on April 24, 2012. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited for an hour in 1954 to dedicate the opening of the National Bureau of Standards, now National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).
Romney and Obama remain in a close race to win Colorado’s nine electoral votes this November. Both have visited multiple areas of the state this summer. President Obama has visited Colorado eight times in 2012. The first presidential debate between Obama and Romney will take place at the University of Denver on Oct. 3 in the Magness Arena, and tickets are not available to the public.[nggallery id = 75]
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.