First lady stresses voting importance in a teleconference

Rex Santus

It wasn’t until eight years ago First Lady Michelle Obama paid back her student loans, she said Tuesday during a teleconference with student media outlets including the Daily Kent Stater.

“I always remember what life was like when Barack and I were just starting out our life together,” Obama said. “We were holding down jobs and out of school … We bought our first condominium. We found our combined monthly student loan bill was actually higher than our first mortgage.”

Obama’s teleconference was in preparation for her speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday night. The call focused on the importance of young people’s voting in the November election.

Obama said young people are the “engine” of her husband’s campaign.

“The fact is we know this election hangs in the balance,” Obama said. “We know that young people and new voters like many of you are the ones who can put this election over the top.”

Obama said young people were a major factor in Barack’s success during the 2008 presidential election, and they should keep their faith in him.

“Young people like you all are going to provide the spark that’s going to be needed,” Obama said. “[Young people] did that back in 2008, and we’re going to need you to do it again in 2012.”

Higher education is essential, she said, and young people should utilize their right to vote to ensure a good future.

Michelle Obama on the Democratic National Convention

Michelle Obama on students

Michelle Obama on student loans

“Barack believes that whether it’s a two-year program or a four-year program or whatever higher education you’re getting … [higher education] cannot be a luxury in this country,” Obama said. “It’s an economic necessity that everybody should be able to afford.”

Obama said her husband is a candidate that understands young people need assistance in paying for college, and that is something that should weigh heavy in students’ minds come November.

“When it comes to making college affordable, Barack’s got your back,” Obama said. “When he passed the historic health [care] reform … he made sure all of you — young people — could stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 26 years old so that you don’t lose your insurance right when you need it most.”

She closed her speech by insisting students should get involved with the campaign by informing those around them.

“Talk to your friends [and] talk to your family members … talk to them about Barack’s vision,” Obama said. “Talk to them about the values that he brings to the presidency that have led to all these significant policy accomplishments … Don’t let anyone escape your grasp.”

Young people need to do everything they can in these crucial months before the election to move the country forward, she said.

“In 10 or 20 years,” she said, “you’re going to be able to look back and say, ‘In this election, when the stakes were so high [and] the country was at a crossroads,’ you’re going to be able to tell your kids, ‘I did my part.’”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].