Bennet stumps on Plaza

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Oct 122010
 
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., made a campaign stop at the Lory Student Center Plaza Tuesday looking to reinvigorate the young voters that showed up to the polls en mass in 2008 by hitting issues like student loans and job availability after graduation.

“I hope students will come out all across the state. Every single vote is going to count in this election,” Bennet said.

The senator dressed casually for the event, wearing jeans like he often does on the campaign trail, as he spoke to about 100 people. He said this election is critical for young people. There has been a national push to get out the vote among the first-time voters who cast ballots during the 2008 presidential election but are notoriously absent for midterm elections.

Bennet told the Collegian that enthusiasm among Democratic voters has dropped largely as a result of obstacles the country’s economy is facing. These difficulties create uncertainty for students, particularly in regard to the possibility of finding work after finishing school.

“There will be significant economic decisions made in the next few years,” said Courtney Stuard, a senior journalism and technical communications major. “We need to show that we care.”

The chances of college students attaining high paying jobs, Bennet said, will be greater when the
U.S. rids itself of its reliance on foreign oil and manufactures its own energy sources through
green energy jobs.

“We can produce our own energy here in Colorado,” Bennet said to the crowd. “With abundant natural gas, abundant sun, abundant wind and a lot of entrepreneurial horse power –– on this campus by the way –– that’s dedicated to the idea of a cleaner energy environment.”

Bennet has been an advocate for the federal student loan programs and expressed concern with the fact that the U.S. no longer ranks among the leading countries in producing college graduates. The loans make it possible for students to attend college who otherwise could not, he said.

“We’re making it harder for people to graduate college, not easier. We’re making it harder for people to get to college, not easier,” Bennet said.

Bennet said his opponent Republican Ken Buck believes the Founding Fathers would not believe in student loans, and said that it could not be clearer who students should vote for.

“You have one person who strongly supports the federal student loan program, that’s me.” Bennet said. “And you got this other guy running that wants to end the federal student loan program.”

But Buck’s campaign disputed Bennet’s assertion that Buck would do away with federal student loans. In a phone interview with Collegian, Buck campaign spokesman Owen Loftus said the claim is
“an outright lie.”

Loftus said Buck believes the loans provide a backup for students wanting access to higher education. Buck is, however, opposed to a complete federal takeover of the loan process.

Bennet left the Plaza shaking hands with supporters and talking briefly with students. From campus, his next stop was the Odell’s Brewery, where he hosted a meet-and-greet with community members.

Buck and Bennet will take their debate national on Oct. 17 when they will appear together on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with David Gregory.

Bennet will also be joined by former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama for an early vote rally on Oct. 18.

Staff writer Chadwick Bowman can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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