With the election a mere 12 days away, President Barack Obama’s media blitz continued today when he answered young voter questions on MTV.
In the half-hour special, MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway sat down with with the President in the Oval Office (one of three interviews Obama is conducting at the White House today) to ask questions submitted via Facebook.
As anticipated, MTV viewers were primarily concerned with the job market and student debt. Obama said he inherited the problem from former President George W. Bush and took office at a time when the “economy was in a free fall” and Americans were “losing 800,000 jobs a month.” Some of his plans of action, which he’s stressed on various other occasions, include bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S., hiring more K-12 math and science teachers, investing in sustainable energy, and eliminating the capital gains tax in order to benefit small businesses.
He also noted that expanding Pell Grants and stabilizing student loan interest rates are steps his administration have already taken to ensure students seek higher education. “An investment in college education still pays off. College graduates make a million dollars more in the course of a lifetime than someone who just has a high school diploma.”
Obama also addressed questions that weren’t posed during any of the three presidential debates about marriage equality and climate change. He first announced his support for same- sex marriage in May and stressed his position on the issue today. He stood by his earlier stance to allow marriages to be defined on a state level. “For us to try to delegate federally in this area is probably the wrong way to go,” he said. Obama then noted that Romney, unlike “a lot of the members in his party,” believes in climate change, but hasn’t acknowledged that the problem is man-made. He said his administration, on the other hand, has “doubled our use of renewable energy.”
He also reiterated the importance of enforcing gun control laws more effectively and addressing the heart of the issue: “A part of the issue also is kids who feel so little hope and think their prospect for the future is so small that they think, ‘I’m going to end up in jail or dead.'” In an attempt to appeal to the younger MTV demographic, Obama also mentioned his daughters throughout the interview, especially when discussing reproductive health, workplace equality, and paid family leave for women. “I’ve got two daughters; they’re growing up pretty quick. When they’re out of the house, I want to make sure they have the same opportunities as anybody’s sons do.”
Despite being pressed for time, Calloway, who kept his hat on during the interview, insisted on asking a music question: what artist Obama thought mixed politics and music in the tradition of Bob Dylan, Chuck D, and Bob Marley. His noncommittal answer: Bruce Springsteen and The Roots. Calloway also asked whether the president was more concerned with his daughter Malia getting a driver’s license, dating, or using Facebook. He picked Facebook. The question yielded Obama’s most paternal comment of the day. “I want [my daughters] to be with men who respect them, value them, and understand their worth,” he said.