President Barack Obama shrugs during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 29, 2012.
President Barack Obama shrugs during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 29, 2012.
WHITE HOUSE — While Republicans hold their convention in Tampa, Florida, President Barack Obama has been campaigning in college towns.  The president is hoping college students will help him win re-election, as they helped elect him in 2008.

In Charlottesville, Virginia Wednesday, Mr. Obama told about 7,500 people that young voters made change possible in the last election, and he hopes they can do it again.

“And in November, your voice will matter more than ever," said President Obama. "And listen, if you doubt that, then pay a little attention to what is happening in Tampa this week.  [Crowd boos]  Don’t boo, vote.”

The president spoke near the University of Virginia, after the university declined the campaign’s request to speak on campus, saying it would disrupt classes.

Obama was concluding a two-day trip that also included speeches at Iowa State University and Colorado State University.

College students and other young voters were a large part of the coalition that helped Barack Obama win the presidency in 2008.

This year, the crowds are often smaller, but still enthusiastic.

For the second day during the GOP convention, the president criticized Republican nominee Mitt Romney for promising to dismantle Mr. Obama’s health care plan.  Republicans often ridicule the plan as unnecessary government interference in a private industry, calling it “Obamacare.”

“He calls my health care law ‘Obamacare.’  I call his plan ‘Romney doesn’t care," said Obama.

Obama also made a rare campaign trail reference to immigration issues.  He condemned Republicans for opposing legislation to allow the children of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States.

“You can say that in this century, we do not think young immigrants who were brought here when they were children, and understand themselves as Americans, and have pledged allegiance to the Flag, should suddenly be deported to countries where they have never been," he said.  

Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke Wednesday to the American Legion, a veterans organization.  At the group’s convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Romney said that if elected, he will work to keep the U.S. military strong and make the 21st century an “American century.”

“And to accomplish that we must have the strongest military and the strongest economy in the world," said Romney. "Regrettably, President Obama has failed on both counts.  As his term in office comes to an end, we are now further from making this an American century.  Our economy is weak, and our military is bracing for devastating cuts.”

Public opinion polls show the president and Mr. Romney virtually even.

Obama is concentrating most of his efforts on a number of key states where the election is likely to be decided, including Iowa, Colorado and Virginia.  In 2008, he was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia’s electoral votes since 1964.