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Obama Takes Campaign Message to College Students

President Obama
In a conference call on Monday, President Barack Obama urged college students to remain politically active AP

Trying to minimize Democratic losses in the midterm election, President Obama is reaching out for the votes of college students.

"I want to send a message about how important this election is," he said on a conference call this afternoon with college student journalists.

Mr. Obama said that's the reason he's doing a Democratic Party rally tomorrow on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Despite an economy with 9.6% unemployment and 1.6% growth, the president tried to reassure college students about their futures.

"I think your generation's gonna be just fine," he said in response to a question. He acknowledged that the nation has gone through "the worst recession since the Great Depression" and things are "real tough" for young people right now.

"I know we've gone through tough times the last 2 years," said Mr. Obama in summing up his assessment of the economy. He said he worries that young people feel "their horizons have to be lowered" and their sights set "a little bit lower" than their parents or grandparents.

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But he assured the students on his conference call that though young people face an "enormous challenge, they live in the most vibrant, dynamic and wealthiest nation on Earth. And if young people work together to solve the nation's problems, he said there's no reason the 21st century can't also be the "American Century."

Mr. Obama also said that for students getting a college degree with skills in math or science, "there are still jobs out there even in a tough environment."

Mr. Obama stressed his programs to expand student loans for those in college so as to expand the percentage of young people who get college degrees. He also said the U.S. has fallen to twelfth position globally in the percentage of young people getting college degrees, and he has set a goal of returning to first place by the end of the decade.

His rally tomorrow at the University of Wisconsin is part of a two-day, four-state campaign swing to defend his economic policies against Republican criticism.

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Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here:
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