Biden plays to younger crowd in Eau Claire stop

About 3,000 people attend event at UW-Eau Claire

Playing to a younger audience, Vice President Joe Biden is stressing differences between the presidential campaigns on education, college debt and entitlement programs more in doubt for future generations.

Biden spoke Thursday to a crowd estimated by local fire officials at 3,000 people on the University of Wisconsin campus in Eau Claire. He stressed the current administration’s moves to defray college costs and said Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign hardly mentions education “except in a negative context.”

“Soon, you’re all going to be stepping out of this great university and taking leadership of this great country, and the question is, ‘What will you inherit?'” Biden said.

Biden told the students they would inherit a stronger economy, one that invested in education, if they reelected the president.

But Biden spent much of the speech on his opponents, and how their plan had been tried before and it didn’t work.

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“It ends in the catastrophe of the middle class and the great recession of 2008. The president and I have a different way forward. We know the way to create jobs is the old fashioned way, from the middle out, not the top down,” Biden said.

Those with student loans said Biden came to the right place to highlight education.

“If you can’t get a job right out of college, what are you going to do? How are you going to pay back your loans?” said Robin Kinter, a UW-Eau Claire senior from Sun Prairie.

“I’m going to be an elementary school teacher, and I was really happy to hear him talking about more funding for elementary schools, for Head Start schools, making sure kids get off to the right start,” said Sarah Knutson, a sophomore education major.

About 3,000 people packed into UW-Eau Claire’s arena, but not everyone could hear Biden’s message in person.

“We got stuck outside. The fire marshal shut it down because the capacity was overdone. There are probably 50-60 people outside the front doors and hundreds around the area,” said Brandon Noskoviak, a local student.

While people were excited for the vice president, they said they’re ready for the president to campaign in the area as well.

It was Biden’s second Wisconsin stop this month, a sign of the state’s new importance as an established presidential battleground.

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan campaigned near Green Bay on Wednesday. It was Ryan’s third rally in Wisconsin since the home-state congressman joined Romney’s presidential ticket.

President Barack Obama was last in Wisconsin in February. Romney’s most recent visit was in August.

Obama is planning to visit Wisconsin later this month. An invitation said Obama will hold a fundraiser and roundtable discussion at the Milwaukee Theater on Sept. 22.

Donors must give a minimum of $250 to attend the general reception in Milwaukee. Those who contribute $5,000 to the Democratic president’s campaign fund are also invited to a photo reception and VIP reception. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the cost to attend a roundtable discussion with Obama is $25,000. 

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