First Lady Michelle Obama is due in Iowa later today and President Obama will be in Iowa City tomorrow – visits that highlight Iowa’s status as a “swing” state that could help decide who wins the 2012 presidential race.
Michelle Obama plans to meet with campaign volunteers in Des Moines late this afternoon, then speak at a campaign fundraiser. President Obama’s visit to the University of Iowa is meant to highlight his push to maintain current interest rates on government student loans. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, was asked to speak Monday on a conference call arranged for reporters by the Obama reelection campaign.
“Keeping college affordable is a critical part of the president’s blueprint for an economy that’s built to last,” Harkin said.
According to Harkin, 72 percent of Iowa college graduates have student loan debt and the average amount of debt is 30-thousand dollars — the third highest student loan debt load in the country. The interest rate on government student loans is currently 3.4 percent, but it is scheduled to double on July 1st, to 6.8 percent.
“This is unacceptable, especially at this very tenuous time in our economy,” Harkin said. “It’s why President Obama is traveling this week to the University of North Carolina, the University of Colorado and the University of Iowa to speak out on this issue.”
Those three states are also key battlegrounds in the fall election. Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s 2012 running mate, visited Iowa twice in March. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s likely presidential nominee, last visited Iowa on January 3rd, the day of the Iowa Caucuses.