Obama says students could be decisive voting block

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said young people could be a powerful force in the upcoming presidential election and urged college students to register to vote during a conference call Saturday. âÄúIf young people turn out at the levels that they can turn out, it can end up being the decisive voting bloc in this election,âÄù Obama, who was campaigning in Newport News , Va., said. âÄúWe have opportunity, not just to change this country, but to change the world in this election.âÄù Young people have contributed energetically to political campaigns this year due to issues like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change and the economic downturn, Obama said during the 15-minute call with about 75 college journalists from across the country. âÄúThereâÄôs a sense among the next generation of voters that weâÄôre at the defining moment in our history,âÄù he said. âÄúI think that people recognize that if we donâÄôt deal with these critical issues now, then at some point we may be too late.âÄù Obama also outlined his proposed policies on issues like student debt, the financial crisis and volunteer service. Obama said his plan would ease financial burdens on those attending college by tying aid to volunteer service. âÄúI put forward a plan saying weâÄôre going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, in exchange for some form of community service,âÄù he said. âÄúWe will make college affordable for you, and weâÄôll pay for it by getting banks out of the business of mediating student loans between the government and students.âÄù Obama also said he would double Peace Corps positions and expand AmeriCorps , which helps fund programs like Teach for America where teachers are forgiven portions of their loans in exchange for teaching at schools in low-income communities. âÄúI think young people are eager and ready to serve; we just have not asked enough of this generation,âÄù he said. âÄúI see young people volunteering and getting involved all the time, but they become cynical about politics.âÄù College students shouldnâÄôt rule out careers in government either, Obama said. âÄúWe need the best and the brightest being involved in public service,âÄù he said. âÄúWe want people in the Foreign Service, we want people in the military, we want people willing to do outstanding work in the federal government, in state and local government.âÄù Josh Earnest, an Obama spokesman , said the call was scheduled for Saturday to reach young people before voter registration deadlines expired in 28 states this coming week, not including Minnesota, which allows voters to register at the polls on Election Day. Obama urged young people to familiarize themselves with each candidateâÄôs policies. âÄúThis is one that is as important as any election youâÄôll probably ever participate in,âÄù he said. âÄúThis is not an election to sit out.âÄù