President Barack Obama told 6,000 Iowa State University students and supporters on central campus Tuesday that they would be responsible for choosing the country's future.
“Your generation chooses which path we take as a country,” Obama said with Curtiss Hall, American Flags and students dressed in ISU's cardinal and gold as his backdrop.
Obama told students that in two months, "you get to choose a path that actually will lead to a better future. You will have the chance to prove the cynics wrong."
He tried to relate to students throughout his speech telling them that he had college loans too and he and his wife Michelle Obama were finally able to pay them off just eight years ago.
"We know what it's like," Obama said alluding to his uber wealthy opponent Mitt Romney, who made headlines for saying that people could just borrow money from their parents to start a business or go to college.
"In America, higher education isn't a luxury; it's an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford," Obama said.
Larry Zwagerman, of Ames, who attended Bill Clinton's 1995 visit to ISU and Obama's most recent Iowa stop in Boone, said it was great to see so many young people at Obama's ISU event. Thousands of students waited in a line that wound through campus to pass through security.
“It's great to see the enthusiasm,” Zwagerman said.
Jessica Wheatley, Meg Young and Jordan Masters were among a sea of students who said they were so excited that they felt like they were waiting for a rock concert.
Masters, an 18-year-old Iowa State University student, said she was most interested in seeing how the president handles himself, because sometimes the reasons why a sitting president ran in the first place become lost as they fight to be re-elected, she said.
“I think he still believes in changing America for the better. I still think that is his campaign,” Masters said.
Elsewhere on campus, an ISU Students for Mitt group set up a rally for GOP candidate Mitt Romney to speak out against Obama's "failed" policies, particularly as it relates to students.
"We want to show everybody that President Obama does not have the youth vote locked up like he did in 2008," said Jon Laudner, an Iowa State student and vice chair of Students for Mitt, who helped organize the rally.
Obama's visit to ISU was the first of three stops at college campuses across the country. He planed to fly to Fort Collins, Colorado to speak at Colorado State University Tuesday and to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA on Wednesday. It was his 12th visit to Iowa since his presidency began and his sixth trip to Iowa in 2012.
Since his election, Obama created a college tax credit worth up to $10,000 through four years of college. The new college tax credit benefited an estimated 78,000 Iowa students in 2011 and increased funding for the Pell Grants has benefited more than 6,074 students in Story County, and 5,930 students at Iowa State University, according to information from the campaign.
Obama's campaign rented the space for the Iowa State University stop and brought all equipment and even bottles of water to pass out to attendees who stood in 90 degree heat.
It was a campaign stop, but it was also a historic moment for the land grant university. Obama's appearence was the university's third visit by a sitting president. Gerald Ford made a stop here in 1976 and Bill Clinton appeared in 1995.
“We think it's an important opportunity for students. A lot of people go their entire lives without being close to the president of the United States,” said John McCaroll of Iowa State University relations.
The event opened with a concert by local artist Patrick Tape Fleming of the Poison Control Center and brief speech from Abhishek Vemuri, president of the revived Iowa State University College Democrats.
Sen. Tom Harkin and Mischa Olson of the ISU College Democrats, also spoke before the president walked on stage.