Michelle Obama says youth vote can make difference

Kelly Pickerel

Michelle Obama spoke with college media outlets yesterday, urging student voters to change America.

The wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama expressed her husband’s views and campaign goals during a conference call with college journalists across the country.

“This election is going to determine the course of an entire generation,” Michelle Obama said. “Young people will be dealing with the effects of this election for the rest of their lives. They need to make their voices heard and do it now.”

Michelle Obama’s main message was for college-aged Americans to make a difference in the 2008 election, since previously the generation shied away from the polls.

She noted that during the 2004 election, only half of the students eligible to vote actually voted, and since then, some campaigns have not recognized students as a group that matters.

“In the past, too many have decided to stay silent,” she said. “A lot of campaigns don’t believe young people will come through. We’ve got to turn that trend around.”

Michelle Obama said more than 10 million 18- to 24-year-olds are still not registered to vote. The Barack Obama campaign sponsors a Web site (www.voteforchange.com) that helps citizens register to vote, request absentee ballots and find polling locations.

Michelle Obama recommends students reverse the trend from 2004 by visiting the Web site and registering for the November election.

“We have traveled to almost every corner of this country, and the one thing we’ve been so impressed by is all the young people that we have met in all our stops,” Michelle Obama said. “Young people who are bright and curious and passionate – everything that you would hope our young people would be. They’ve just believed in the possibility that (the country) can do better.

“I think that young people have really found their voice in this campaign, and they see their future in this candidate.”

Michelle Obama believes students have associated themselves with Barack Obama’s mission because of his promises for an increased Pell grant, a restored middle class, a health plan that allows young people to stay on parents’ plans until age 25, five million new jobs within clean energy technology and an end to the Iraq war.

“Barack is committed to bring the troops home and take that $10 billion we spend each month and figure out how to reinvest that here at home,” she said, adding that in order to make these promises a reality, students must not only register but actually vote.

“Our work isn’t over yet,” Michelle Obama said. “We need all the young people we’ve met to stay involved and stay focused.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].