This week President Barack Obama has shifted his campaign strategy to attacking Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s education plan. The attack kicked off with a speech in Ohio this Tuesday which accused Mitt Romney of being oblivious to the cost of higher education, saying that under his policy proposals students will have no choice but to either borrow from their parents or make money the main basis for choosing a college.
“This is his plan,” Obama emphasized, for helping students who were trying to afford college without accruing crippling education debt. He added that while most people don’t have parents with money to lend, there are those out there who are not as cognizant of this fact as they ought to be.
Obama is mainly targeting this attack to woo younger voters who were key to his victory in 2008. The feeling this time around is that the younger demographic isn’t as motivated in this election cycle, and the resultant decline in voter turnout could sink Obama’s campaign to stay in office for another four years.
The escalating tempo of the attacks are aimed to hamstring the Romney campaign in the lead-in to the Republican National Convention scheduled to kick off on Monday, August 27th. Polling shows that the candidates are still almost neck-and-neck without any sign that one or the other is about to pull ahead.
Romney’s campaign countered the president’s education critique, saying college costs had skyrocketed under Obama’s watch and his economic policies had made it difficult for recent college graduates to find work. Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said Obama’s policies were “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.”
Painting Romney as out of touch with the needs of average Americans has been a strategy of the Obama campaign since it became clear that Romney would emerge as the winner of a chaotic Republican primary season. Both Obama and his surrogates have bolstered this strategy by talking up the GOP nominee’s family background and hedge fund experience.
Democrats have tried to use Ryan’s budget proposal to undermine Romney’s pitch to blue-collar voters, and Obama’s appeal on higher education was no different.
Democrats contend that Ryan’s budget proposal, which failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, would cut $115 billion from the Education Department, costing 1 million college students their Pell Grants over the next decade. Democrats argue those moves would punish many middle class and low income families trying to gain an education.