Obama for America’s National Campaign Manager Jim Messina and Youth Vote Director Valeisha Butterfield-Jones held a nationwide conference call Monday afternoon with college press members to announce President Barack Obama’s “Greater Together” initiative.
Greater Together, which was announced by the Obama Campaign on Oct. 25, focuses on the 18- to 29-year-old voter demographic and seeks to encourage the youth to take an active role in politics.
“Greater Together is a program for you, the young Americans across the country,” Messina said. “(The youth) shattered records at the ballot box (in 2008) and crushed the idea that young people are apathetic and not civically engaged. Here we are four years later and it’s time to prove the naysayers wrong once again.”
Voters ages 18 to 24 showed a significant increase in turnout in 2008 from the previous presidential election, according the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2008, 49 percent of citizens in this age group — more than 12.5 million — came to vote, compared to 47 percent in 2004.
The program recognizes the youth vote as an essential part of Obama’s success in 2008 and hopes to spur student involvement with the 2012 campaign.
There are roughly 8 million voters between the ages of 18 and 21 who were unable to vote in the last election because their age, Messina said.
The program has several initiatives that focus on getting the youth involved in the Obama campaign.
A National Students Summit will be held at the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday and will be streamed live to 82 college campuses across the country.
“Greater Together is a program designed for the president and for us as a campaign to talk with — not to — the young people,” Butterfield-Jones said.
In addition to a series of student summits at college campuses across the nation, the Greater Together campaign aims to address the youth through digital mediums, aiming to make the most out of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Global studies and history sophomore Raquel Briana Contreras was an Obama campaign volunteer in 2008 but was too young to vote at the time.
“I think (Obama) represents my best interest as a student through his reform of student loans and his support of the Pell grant,” Contreras said.
She plans to cast her first presidential ballot for Obama in the upcoming election.
“(He also represents my interests) as a woman through the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and as someone going into the job market with his push for the jobs bill.”
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