The volume levels at the colleges President Obama spoke at this week as part of his campaign to keep student loan rates down hovered somewhere between “NBA playoff game” and “supersonic jet.” Mitt Romney’s address Friday at Otterbein University was not quite there yet.
Mostly sticking to his go-to stump topics, Romney delivered a sleepy address to students at the Ohio school, some of whom seemed to struggle to stay awake. Sometimes it was a losing struggle.
The central theme Romney drove home was the fact that “sometimes appearances do not conform with the facts or reality,” and he applied it to such topics as the office supply industry, the intricacies of tax filing law and Dodd-Frank financial legislation.
“I have several examples of disparity between appearance and reality,” Romney said, launching into a lengthy monologue about his time as a private equity investor, when he discovered — to his critics’ chagrin! — that potential annual savings on office supplies were significant enough to justify an investment in bigger stores that could make their profits on higher sales volume rather than bigger mark-ups.
“What we found was they were spending a lot more than what I thought on copy paper and toner and supplies and software and so forth,” said. “So we decided we would invest in this office superstore. It’s called Staples and now employs many tens of thousands.”
Polls show young voters, who helped power Obama to office in 2008, are still a strong Democratic constituency, but Romney and the RNC insist they can cut into the president’s lead by highlighting the economic struggles of recent graduates. Or, at the very least, they hope to keep turnout lower than it was in 2008. One Romney adviser, Hank Brown, even suggested this week that the 65-year-old Romney is especially well-positioned to eat into Obama’s share of the youth vote because he is “younger” and “more dynamic” than John McCain was in 2008.
The reactions from students in attendance leaves something to be desired — especially when you compare their subdued, seated observance of Romney’s speech with the raucous reception Obama received this week. We mashed the two up into a video. Be sure to focus on the faces behind the two candidates:
Video also available on YouTube
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.