In response to a question from a college student about post-graduation employment, President Obama appeared to suggest that after college he would be able to find employment as a blue collar worker in a factory or as a construction worker.
“How can you reassure me that I will be able to support myself after I graduate?” 20-year-old Jeremy Epstein asked the presidential candidates at Tuesday night’s town hall debate.
As part of his answer, Obama promised to build on “the 5 million jobs we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector.” The President touted the number of manufacturing jobs created under his administration and said more manufacturing jobs would be part of his plan, as well as making sure America controls its own energy.
He also suggested that jobs would be available in the future in the teaching industry based on his plan to add 100,000 more teachers and in the construction industry creating roads and bridges.
Other than mentioning a push to make the nation’s education system the best in the world, Obama seemed to have trouble staying on topic in a way that was relevant to a current college student. Furthermore, his answer suggested that the college student should either get a job in manufacturing or construction rather than the industry of his degree, which Jeremy did not provide, but the President did not ask for.
On the other hand, Romney went out of his way to engage the student, asking when his graduation date was.
In his answer, Romney told a personal story about a Philadelphia girl who was working three jobs after college.
“We have to make sure we make it easier for kids to afford college,” Romney said, later adding, “The key thing is to make sure you get a job out of school.”
Romney did not give any specifics, given the two minute time constraints, but he assured Epstein he would make sure he had a job at his graduation in 2014. ”It’s not going to be like the last four years,” the former Massachusetts Governor told him.
Epstein was a guest on MSNBC the morning following the debate, and said both candidates gave ” very good answers.”
“Well, Mitt Romney’s first answer, I felt like he was staring into my soul, just right through me when he was answering the question.” Epstein said. “I felt like, you know, he offered me a job five minutes into the debate.”
Obama’s response was sincere as well, Epstein noted, remarking that the President had called his future bright. He also said he was nervous about asking his question, speaking eloquently and being careful not to “embarrass the family.” When pressed by MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd about whether or not he is still undecided, Epstein said his mind was made up, but he did not want to reveal his choice.
“I think we should wait until Election Day,” he said.
After the debate, Epstein said he talked with both candidates, and briefly touched on his basketball conversation with Obama. “He said that I could not beat him in one-on-one, but I disagree with that.”
*This post has been updated to include additional information.