President Obama talked about his ongoing commitment to education in a visit to this battleground state today, his first official campaign event of the year in Northern Nevada but his third visit to the area in just the past few months.
Obama’s campaign stop, to be followed by another event tomorrow in Las Vegas, comes to the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent.
“Your education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success,” he told a cheering crowd of 1,000 supporters in the student union at the Truckee Meadows Community College. “When we invest in your future we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is, that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most skilled workforce in the world.
“When companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for,” Obama said. “And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada, the state of Nevada, the United States of America; we’ve got the best workers in the world and I want to keep it that way.”
A college official estimated total attendance at the rally, including those outside, at 2,100.
Obama also pushed his plan to maintain the Bush tax cuts for most Americans but not for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more, and criticized presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for seeking tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest citizens.
Obama said that since he took office, his administration has helped over three million more students afford a college education.
“Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Gov. Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent,” he said.
The cuts are proposed not to balance the budget but to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, Obama said.
“Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?” he asked. “It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
In response to Obama’s remarks here and in Ohio, the Republican National Committee said research shows that during his administration, the cost of college “is skyrocketing to an all time high.”
Since Obama took office, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds has increased from 12.4 percent to 13.5 percent, the RNC said.
“Despite President Obama’s speech tonight in Reno, it’s more clear than ever that his failed policies have seen college costs soar and job opportunities dwindle for young graduates,” the RNC said.
Obama handily won Nevada in the 2008 presidential race, but saw Democrats lose ground in Nevada and nationally in the 2010 mid-term elections. Polls put the state as a tossup between the two candidates, and Washoe County is viewed by many local political observers as the region where the race will be played out in November.
In his concluding remarks, Obama said he is counting on students like those at Truckee Meadows to not get discouraged and to work to help Democrats win Nevada in November.
“First of all, you’ve got no excuses not to register to vote,” he said.
If volunteers knock on doors and make phone calls just like in 2008, Democrats will win Washoe County, Nevada and another four years, Obama said.