Updated: Monday, 09 Aug 2010, 7:07 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 09 Aug 2010, 9:41 AM EDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Speaking to an energetic crowd on the University of Texas at Austin campus on Monday, President Obama said he is "absolutely committed" to making college affordable for everyone and financial aid for higher education easier to get.
"I’m absolutely committed to making sure that here, in America, no one is denied a chance to go to college, no one is denied a chance to pursue their dreams, no one is denied a chance to make the most of their lives because they can’t afford it," Obama told the crowd of about 3,000 - most of them dressed in the burnt orange colors of their Longhorns team. "We are a better country than that, and we need to act like it."
President Obama's remarks also touched on minority education, the end of the war, and the economic crisis in his Monday speech to students, faculty and invited guests - the second stop on his whirlwind three hours in Austin before heading to Dallas for an evening fundraising event.
According to Rhonda Weldon with UT police, four people were arrested for criminal trespassing. She said no other incidents occurred that did not result in an arrest.
The president touched down at Austin Bergstrom International Airport just before noon on Monday, greeted Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and headed toward the first of two stops in Austin.
His office said the meeting at the airport comes after Perry originally requested a sit-down meeting with the president, but White House officials reportedly never got back to him. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White was in West Texas for the day and had no plans to meet up with the president at any point during his Texas visit on Monday.
From there, the president headed to a Democratic National Committee fundraising event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown Austin . According to an e-mail to local Democrats, attending the fundraiser begins at $5,000 per person. For $30,400, contributors get special seating and a photo with the president.
On the menu: watermelon salad with tomato and basil crème fraiche, duo of beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce and crab cake, chive-lemon risotto and sugar snap peas. Dessert was chilled lemon-vanilla bread pudding and blueberry compote.
From his Four Seasons speech, according to a pool report:
Obama criticized GOP economic policies, saying Republicans' best plan was keeping the Bush tax cuts. He used a "car-in-ditch" analogy to describe economic situation and the R vs. D role in fixing the problem.
"It's as if these guys took the car, drove it into the ditch," he told the Democratic crowd. "So we put our boots on, walked down into the ditch and the mud, we pushed and shoved. Meanwhile, they're standing back, they're watching us, drinking a Slurpee or something, saying, "Well, you're not pushing fast enough. You should push that way instead of that way.' They had a lot of commentary, but they sure weren't putting their shoulder behind pushing."
He joked: "In a car, when you want to go forward, you put it in D. When you want to go backward, you put it in R. That's no coincidence."
During the speech, three people were detained outside the gym. One anti-war protester, and Robin Schneider of Texas Campaign for the Environment, who was trying to get people to sign a petition for reduction of water bottles. Information was unavailable on the third detention.
Hundreds of UT students stood in line early Saturday morning for a chance to get free tickets to the event.
During the speech, Obama is expected to remind people about the steps he's taken with the Democratic-led Congress to funnel more money to colleges.
Following the UT speech, Obama will fly to Dallas for another fundraising event.
KXAN Austin News will carry the UT speech live on KXAN-TV and KXAN.com at 2 p.m.
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