By Scott Horsley of NPR
President Obama wrapped up a two-day tour of three major public universities on Wednesday. The final stop was at the University of Iowa, where students have a high rate of student loan debt.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I’m Robert Siegel.
President Obama wrapped up a three-state tour of college campuses this afternoon with a speech at the University of Iowa. He’s been urging students to use Twitter and Facebook to pressure Congress to maintain low interest rates on college loans. Today, Mr. Obama heard from students who could be personally affected if rates double this summer as scheduled. NPR’s Scott Horsley has the story.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama met privately with five University of Iowa students who told him about their own struggles in paying for school. Senior Marissa Boles says subsidized loans made it possible for her to go to college, even after her father lost his job at a shuttered Maytag plant.
Later, Mr. Obama told a crowd at the University Field House everyone should have that same opportunity.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can’t price out folks who are trying to make sure that they not only succeed for themselves but help the country succeed.
HORSLEY: The Democratic-controlled Senate is considering a bill to keep interest rates where they are, but Mr. Obama says its fate in the GOP House is uncertain. He urged students to launch a 21st century lobbying campaign to keep the pressure on lawmakers.
OBAMA: Call them, email them, write on their Facebook page, tweet.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
OBAMA: We’ve got a hashtag: Don’t Double My Rate.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
OBAMA: Don’t Double My Rate.
HORSLEY: The president’s three college visits this week are part of a coordinated effort aimed at young voters, who are generally supportive of Mr. Obama, but less so than they were four years ago. Last night, he appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night TV program, where he answered questions that mostly youthful viewers had sent in via Twitter.
JIMMY FALLON: Due to economic pressures, influence on voters could likely see a dot, dot, dot – ah, forget it. Are you going to legalize weed or what?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
HORSLEY: The president’s youth campaign does not go that far. Mr. Obama stressed the federal government won’t be legalizing marijuana any time soon. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Iowa City.