The Young Politica: Do the Presidential Candidates ‘Walk the Walk’ on Student Issues?

If you watched the presidential debate this past week, you probably remember Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student who attends Adelphi University. He opened up the town hall question session by asking:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

This question is the basis of concern for many young Americans. And it correlates to other questions we have about student loans and the economy. In 2008, 51% of young voters came out to the polls and helped swing the vote. An overwhelming amount of students—68 %—voted for Barack Obama.

Now that there is some unrest on how he has handled the economy over the past four years, recognizing the student vote on both sides should be key to snagging the presidency. Here are some issues the candidates need to address:

Degree-Requiring Jobs

Most students out of college are either unemployed or work at jobs which do not need a degree. While both candidates focus on the generalization of ‘more jobs’, they are not necessarily adding more to degree-requiring jobs to the market. Romney addresses these concerns by emphasizing his administration’s take on education—bring more students to technical, vocational, and trade schools. Obama has added jobs, but they are mostly an effort to continue to emphasize his desire to return factory jobs to American workers.

Climate

There is some hope that the candidates will address climate change at the upcoming debate. The President has obviously softened on his need for environmental improvements after Solyndra’s downfall. And Romney is still mocking him for it. But neither candidate has addressed the issue directly within recent weeks.

The Youth Vote

It seems that there have been some belated efforts, but snagging a large percentage of youth votes may be too late. Unlike Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has avoided sitting down with television hosts (wish I could say the same for Ann ) and his social media presence is sub par in comparison to Obama’s. At the same token, Romney might not see benefit in the youth vote; but Obama is definitely not as hip as he was in 2008, as Paul Ryan noted.

After the town hall debate, Jeremy Epstein spoke to NBC New York to discuss the debate. He said that he made his voting decision, but kept it confidential. After the debate, Epstein spoke with both candidates:

“I asked [Romney] if he’s gonna give me that job in two years and he said ‘Maybe,'” Epstein said. “Then I was speaking with President Obama asking how his Chicago Bulls are gonna do, because they lost their MVP Derek Rose, and he said that I could not beat him in one-on-one, but I disagree with that.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

Candy Crowley was the biggest winner in last night’s Town Hall for her real time fact checking on Libya. She also asked follow up questions that forced the candidates to clarify their positions. She is, however, wrong in saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman. It matters a lot that other women see they can aspire to moderate a presidential debate if that is their aspiration. And I suspect having a female role model gave permission, conscious or not, to female questioners who asked about such issues as equal pay.

President Obama snatched victory from the jaws of his first debate defeat, while Mitt Romney snatched defeat from the jaws of his previous winning performance by being, well, Romney.

The optics revealed two alpha males, each determined to prevail. However, Romney’s body language was stiff and menacing, reeking of privilege, whereas Obama seemed comfortable and nonthreatening in his leadership responsibility as president and commander-in-chief.  As Keli Goff observed, Romney not only appeared on the brink of losing his cool several times, but the way he brushed off Crowley was a turn off to women whom both candidates acknowledge are key to the election.

Obama skillfully skewered Romney on the economy with his one-liner characterizing Romney’s economic policy as a “one-point-plan” and saving the 47% moment to the end after Romney set his own trap.

Rivaling his Big Bird gaffe which rapidly became a social media meme, Romney stepped into the biggest pile of goo ever with his “binders of women” comment. Meant to puff up his creds with the ladies, poor Mitt only succeeded in showing

a) he himself apparently knew no qualified women despite having been in business for decades and

b) the Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies; it turns out he didn’t request those binders.

The binders were prepared in advance of the election by a nonpartisan women’s coalition for whomever would become governor.

This has already spawned a “Binders Full of Women” tumblr and a whole slew of Democratic fundraising appeals playing off of Romney’s amazing tone deafness with the reality of women’s lives today. (Really? Only women want to go home for dinner with their families?) My favorite is the one pointing out that there are ballots full of women we can vote for this year.

I wanted Obama to say more, lots more, about the peril to women’s reproductive rights and health should Romney win, and to make more of a point that contraceptive coverage is in fact an economic issue. But there again, Romney managed to do himself in by dancing an inauthentic two-step as he tried to satisfy his anti-birth control base with their favorite code words while not frightening off the 99% of Americans who use birth control at some time during their lives.

So we go into the final debate with a tie score, each candidate having won one and lost one. The last lap of this election promises to continue to be a see-saw. Every vote cast will make a difference.

This post originally appeared in response to a Politico Arena question. Find the original publication here.

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.