News / USA

Obama Reaches Out To Young Voters Through TV, Twitter

President Barack Obama participates in a youth town hall event broadcast live on BET, CMT and MTV networks, 14 Oct 2010
President Barack Obama participates in a youth town hall event broadcast live on BET, CMT and MTV networks, 14 Oct 2010
Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama is reaching out to young voters, appearing Thursday in a question-and-answer session on several youth-oriented television networks and the social network Twitter.  The president is hoping for greater support from young Americans.

Voters under the age of 30 went to the polls in record numbers in 2008, and many of them helped elect Mr. Obama.  

But public opinion surveys show that young voters who support the president are much less interested in taking part in this November's midterm Congressional elections.  According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, only 27 percent of young Democrats say they are giving much thought to the vote.  The number for young Republicans is 39 percent.

So on Thursday, the president went to George Washington University in Washington and addressed about 250 young people in a theater and a nationwide television audience.

The forum appeared on three national television networks-BET News, with a largely African-American audience; CMT, whose viewers are mainly white and rural; and MTV News, which programs for young viewers.

The president took questions from the audience and from people using the social network Twitter.

Many of the questions focused on domestic issues:

"Why should we still support you going forward with your monetary and economic policies, and if the economy does not improve over the next two years, why should we vote you back in?"

"What is your administration planning to do to improve comprehensive primary education and address college affordability?"

"I voted for you in the last elections, based on your alleged commitment to equality for all Americans, gay and straight, and I wanted to know where you stood on 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

"I come from Colombia, and I am waiting for my green card, and I have been waiting for it for about three years.  My grandmother turned 92, and I am afraid that my green card will not get here in time for me to see her for a last time.  Sorry."

One audience member asked Mr. Obama about his support for peace efforts in Sudan.

The president said a referendum on independence for southern Sudan must be organized within approximately 90 days or risk failure, and his administration is working to meet that goal.

"If you have an outbreak of war between the north and south in Sudan, not only could that erupt in more violence that could to lead to millions of deaths, but solving the problem in Darfur becomes that much more difficult," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama urged those watching the forum to put pressure on their lawmakers to support diplomatic efforts for peace in Sudan.

The president told one questioner the don't ask, don't tell policy, which bans homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military, will end on his watch.  But he said he wants to end the policy through legislation, rather than by court orders.

He also defended his efforts to strengthen the slumping U.S. economy, saying his economic stimulus legislation has helped put 3 million Americans to work.

Mr. Obama is not the first president to hold a televised question-and-answer session with young people.  Then-president Bill Clinton held the first forum of this kind on MTV in 1994.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs