By Amie Parnes - 04/24/12 06:08 PM EDT
Seeking to appeal to young voters, President Obama sought to put himself in their shoes on Tuesday, telling a crowd of college students that he only paid off his student loans eight years ago.
In a fiery speech during which he urged Congress to pass legislation to prevent an increase in federally subsidized student loan rates, Obama also continued a narrative where he set himself apart from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, telling the crowd that he and first lady Michelle Obama “didn't come from wealthy families.”
“I just want everybody here to understand. I didn’t just read about this,” Obama said to roaring applause from students at the University of North Carolina. “I didn’t just get some talking points about this. I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this.”
“Michelle and I, we've been in your shoes,” Obama said. “We didn't come from wealthy families. So, when we graduated from college and law school we had a mountain of debt. When we married, we got poor together. We added up our assets and there were no assets.
“We only finished paying off our loans, check this out: I'm the president of the United States ... we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago,” he continued. “That wasn't that long ago.”
Obama used the example of his own education to tout the need to keep student loan rates where they are and prevent them from doubling to 6.8 percent. Romney has called on Congress to pass the student loan extension, but other Republicans are opposed to the extension.
“Everybody will give lip service to this,” Obama said, adding that it requires “not just words but deeds.”
“We have to make college more affordable for young people,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”