President Obama’s visit to Cornell College in Mount Vernon today is timed to coincide with an early voting push targeting Iowa college students. The Obama campaign has dubbed this #CampusTakeover week in Iowa. According to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, younger voters are a key demographic in this “early” voting period in Iowa.

“The president leads with young voters by a large margin,” Messina said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “Two: you know, folks who are on campuses aren’t always registered, so we have a bunch of registration work to do. That’s the work we’ve been doing for a couple of months with big success and we think it’s a place we can go to get some good support.”

Obama’s 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign capitalized on student voters, too. Some out-of-state students out on Christmas break returned to their college towns to vote that night. Today at Cornell College, where Obama’s speaking over the noon-hour, 80 percent of the freshmen are from out-of-state. A satellite voting station is set up on the campus in Mount Vernon today — next door to the fieldhouse where Obama will speak. In a 2012 battleground state like Iowa, Obama’s campaign manager said getting college students to vote early is key.

“I remember when I was in college you’ve got a bunch of classes and you may have a work study job and you may forget to vote on election day,” Messina said, “and so getting college students to vote early is absolutely important.”

The line for today’s rally in Mount Vernon began forming late yesterday afternoon, with some Cornell College students camping out overnight. David Zabner, a senior from Iowa City, got in line at about midnight — and watched last night’s debate on YouTube.

“I thought that both candidates did a really, really good job,” Zabner says. “I thought it was a lot more interesting and they had a deeper level of argument than they had in the first debate, but I’m still pretty sure I’m an Obama supporter.”

Katelyn Rainey, a student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, got in line at six last night.

“I really believe that something like this is important because this is a great opportunity to see a sitting president,” she says. “…It’s supporting something which is getting out and getting informed and being able to inform other people through it.”

Subscribers to The Cedar Rapids Gazette saw an ad this morning in their newspaper featuring an “open letter” from a group of 13 Iowans who say they voted for Obama in 2008, but plan to support Mitt Romney in 2012. It concludes by saying the group “can’t turn back the clock on the mistake” they made four years ago, but the 13 Iowans promised to make it up by casting their ballots for Romney this November. Two of the 13 who co-signed the ad were featured in a video played at the Republican National Convention that profiled “switchers” who’d voted for Obama in ’08 and now plan to vote for Romney in 2012.