The People Running Mitt Romney's Youth Voter Outreach Are All In Their 30s

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Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr

The Romney campaign launched Young Americans for Romney Monday as part of its effort to reach out to young people. The group will “work with prominent young leaders from across the country to help spread the message about why Mitt Romney is the best choice for America’s future,” according to a release from the campaign. Though several politicians and supporters involved in the youth-outreach effort are in their 20s, none of the leaders of the team — it’s chairman or honorary co-chairs — is under 30.The team will be led by national Chairman Craig Romney, the youngest of Romney’s five sons. Craig, born in 1981, is also among the youngest of the team’s honorary co-chairs. Two other members, Rep. Aaron Schock from Illinois and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, were also born in 1981.

The other members are mostly in their mid-thirties. The oldest, Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, is 40. Among a secondary group of advisers are several young lawmakers, such as Ohio state Rep. Christina Hagan, who is 23.

Some of the issues to emerge in the campaign so far that directly impact younger, college-age voters include student loan rates, voter ID laws that impact college students, the DREAM Act for undocumented students and a provision in the health care reform bill that allows young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

Though young Americans are a largely Democratic voting block — a significant 66 per cent of voters under 30 voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — Republicans are making an effort to peel off some of Obama’s support. Polls have shown that young people aren’t as enthusiastic about President Obama as they were four years ago and that there is room for the GOP to make up some ground.

The Republican super PAC Crossroads Generation, jointly begun jointly by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and other Republican youth groups like the College Republicans, released a web video Monday to explain to young Americans how the health care reform law hurts them.

On the other side of the aisle, the Obama campaign’s youth outreach program, called “Greater Together,” launched last October. The campaign’s national youth vote director Valeisha Butterfield Jones works with organisers on the state level to engage young Americans. The campaign doesn’t have the equivalent of honorary co-chairs or non-staffers assigned to the project, although actor Kal Penn has been active in the campaign’s outreach efforts to young Americans. Penn is 35.

“Young people are going to come out and support President Obama because he has taken action important to their generation: bringing the war in Iraq to a responsible end, repealing DADT, making health care affordable and accessible including insuring an additional 3.1 million young Americans, making college more affordable and investing in education and clean energy,” a spokesperson for the Obama campaign told TPM in a statement. “Just as young people came out in huge numbers to organise and lead a movement in 2008, their energy and commitment will help build this campaign again in 2012.”

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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