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Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) visited CU Boulder Tuesday to lead a voter registration drive across campus and to reiterate his commitment to making college more affordable. Seventy-one days before midterm Election Day this November, the senator told students, “Elections are about the future. I am the future. You all are the future.”
Whether Udall will be the future or rather the past come fall is uncertain, though. The senator is locked in a tight re-election race and faces a tough challenge from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The outcome of the too-close-to-call contest could decide which party will take control of the Senate after the midterms.
Udall spearheaded the rally from the UMC via Norlin Quad to Half Fast Subs on The Hill. After he spoke to several students and employees inside the popular sandwich shop, the U.S. senator told CUIndependent.com about his plans to ensure a more affordable college education for more prospective students.
“We ought to make sure Pell Grants are fully funded, we should ensure DREAMers are treated as full-fledged Americans, because they are, and finally we ought to provide a mechanism whereby students and their families can go to a bank and re-finance their student loans,” Udall said. The Federal Pell Grant Program financially supports low-income students, and the DREAM Act provides academic scholarships to immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.
He also pledged to address the more than $1 trillion in student loan debt across the country.
“It is a drag on the economy. It prevents students from starting businesses and starting families at the beginning of their careers. It’s also a threat to our financial stability.”
Shawn Sweeney, a 20-year-old junior in architectural engineering, who is the director of multimedia and technology for CU Student Government, brought his friend Ryan Cutter, 19, a sophomore in aerospace engineering, to Half Fast Subs to see the senator. Both are native Coloradans, from Littleton, and support Udall’s re-election bid.
“[The senator] works hard to get [student] funding and to make sure those funds are accessible to all of Colorado, not just the upper-middle class,” Sweeney said, as he and Cutter munched on free sandwiches courtesy of the Udall for Colorado campaign.
“Fired up, ready to go” – Vol. III?
Earlier, a crowd of about 40 had welcomed the senator at the UMC. Udall, who graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in American civilization, brought along Democratic Secretary of State candidate, CU alum and regent Joe Neguse.
While campaign volunteers frantically approached bystanders to register them to vote, Neguse reminded students of that vibe of excitement that lingered around campus when President Obama came to speak at CU on his way to re-election in 2012.
Democrats in Colorado and across the country worry a traditionally lower turnout in midterms might cost them the election, which is why Neguse revived the Obama camp’s 2008 chant, “Fired up! Ready to go!”
“We need to be more fired up about this election than we ever were in the past because the stakes are incredibly high,” he said.
But the reference shed a twilight on the remarks, as Cory Gardner, Udall’s opponent this fall, keeps trying to tie Sen. Udall to the President and the administration’s plummeting approval rates.
With the approaching Labor Day kicking off the hot phase of the 2014 campaign season, Tuesday’s event on campus was part of Udall’s continued effort to turn out as many voters as possible to curb this year’s national Republican-leaning trends.
“Every vote matters,” campaign spokesperson Kristin Lynch said, mentioning college students, women and Latino voters in particular. All three are key constituencies for Udall, who champions affordable college education, reproductive rights and comprehensive immigration reform.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Lars Gesing at firstname.lastname@example.org.