From: David Boyer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2015 03:25 PM
To: Allen, Jessica
Subject: Travel pool 8 -- crowd count and some remarks
Crowd count was 1,166, as per Chief Haywood Bazemore, chief of Benedict College Campus Police.
Some remarks from the President at the town-hall style event, which was open press and live-streamed:
"It's been awhile since I've been in South Carolina. In fact, it's been too long."
backstage, he said, he saw wonderful people with whom he worked on his campaign in 2008.
"If it was not for this great state … if it hadn't been for all of you, I might not be president."
Of Eric Holder, said he's an extraordinary attorney general. "We're going to miss him."
tomorrow in Alabama, he told students, he'll discuss "the meaning of Selma for your generation."
he said young people "who refused to accept the world as it is" helped to transform society during the Civil Rights era.
he got applause when he called for "a fair and more just legal and criminal justice system."
The president, in shirt and tie, paced around the front of the stage after his brief remarks and called on audience members.
Questions ranged from the Keystone pipeline (a woman originally from Chicago thanking him for his veto) to Pell Grants to the criminal justice system and the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
A young man asked why Holder didn't file federal charges against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The president said it's something where a charge would typically be brought at the state or local level, and that a federal charge is warranted only when due process was violated. "The standard is very high," he said.
"That was an objective, thorough, independent" investigation by DOJ, he said.
"We may never know exactly what happened" between Wilson and Michael Brown, he said, but Wilson is entitled to the benefit of due process.
"You can't just charge anybody because what happened was tragic," Mr. Obama said.
"I don't think that what happened in Ferguson was typical." but neither was it "a complete aberration."
On climate change: "You have to appreciate, young people, that this will affect you more than it will affect old people like me. It's not science fiction; it's not speculation."
He used the question about student loans to talk about his proposal to have the government pay fully for community-college tuition.
So far, he said, he hasn't received enough support from his Republican friends in the House and Senate for the proposal.
Talking about the conditions facing young black men, he said, it's easy to get discouraged but added, "It's not as hard as it was 50 years ago."
A 10-year-old boy asked Obama when he knew that he wanted to be president, and Obama said, "Well, not when I was 10."
The president then asked the boy if he was interested in becoming president, and he replied, "A little bit."
Obama told him to work hard, go to college, and then, "who knows? I might be warming that seat for you."
When another boy who appeared to be about 14 or 15 years old stood and raised his hand about 20 feet from the stage as Obama was talking, the president interrupted himself and said, "Young man, sit down." the boy did so and the president said, "thank you."
The president called on the City Year volunteers to ask a question, and two young women in the back row of their section were vying for the opportunity to be the one to ask the question. They settled it by conducting a quick "rock, paper, scissors" contest while the president waited.
Speaking again about minority young men, Mr. Obama said, "We've got to be honest about it. We're losing a large portion of our generation."
He said part of the reason it's important for policymakers to "rethink" how we approach non-violent drug offenses is because African-American men are more likely to be stopped by police and searched. Young men with criminal records are more often unemployed, and it doesn't just hurt them, it hurts the overall economy.
On gun rights:
we have a tradition of gun ownership, he said. "That's important. That's part of who we are."
"But we also have to recognize that our homicide rates are so much higher" than other countries.
"Most of that is attributable" to the easy availability of firearms, he said.
"I thought after what happened in Sandy Hook, that would make us think about it. I've had some hard days. But nothing compares" to meeting with the parents of 20 6-year-old kids who were shot to death.
"You would have thought that's got to be enough of a motivator" to enact measures such as background checks. "But we couldn't get it done."
"In the absence of more what I would consider heroic and courageous stances from our legislators … it is hard to reduce the easy availability of guns."
We need to make sure our young people understand that using guns "is not a sign of strength."
White House correspondent
The Washington Times
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