Democrats want to make Obama's community college plan a big 2016 issue

The Democratic National Committee is following President Barack Obama’s lead and sending its kids to community college.

A week after young Republicans convened in at the Grand Hyatt hotel in downtown Washington, DC, College Democrats will host their annual conference at University of the District of Columbia, a community college in Northwest DC.

The DNC told Business Insider this will be the first time that the organisation has held its conference at a community college.

Rising Democratic stars Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Department of Housing and Urban Development Director Julian Castro will both speak at the event about the necessity of affordable college options.

The DNC’s move echoes Obama’s push to expand access to higher education by making two years of community college free.
As Reuters has reported, Obama’s college plan would save around 9 million community college students an average of $US3,800 each year.

Obama’s proposal has been opposed by sceptical congressional Republicans, who are concerned that there’s no way to pay for the programs. The Obama administration has suggested that states shoulder 25% of the burden while the federal government covers the rest.

Hillary ClintonAP Photo/John LocherHillary Rodham Clinton speaks with a group, including students, about immigration at an event at Rancho High School in Las Vegas.

Democrats are hoping to use community college as a way to galvanize young voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election and draw a contrast between the two parties. The DNC said that while most Democratic presidential candidates have come out in favour of Obama’s plan, Republicans like Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) have brushed off Obama’s and related plans, calling them more “free stuff.”

Though the annual event is aiming to build excitement among young Democrats for the president’s community college plan, the conference has a fairly lopsided focus on the election. The theme of the convention is “Build the Bench,” the goal of which is to engage “College Democrats to become future leaders in their communities.”

The DNC is also hosting briefings on the GOP candidates and a crash course in campaign-finance compliance.

The group is also going to great lengths to keep the diverse Obama coalition — Black, LGBTQ, Latino, Women, and “Ethnic” groups will each have their own caucus meetings over the weekend. The event’s location is strategic: UDC is a predominantly minority campus.

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