ABC News' Yunji de Nies and James Scholz report:
At the University of Texas at Austin, President Obama made the argument that education is a "prerequisite for prosperity," noting that the U.S. has fallen to 12th in the world in the number of college graduates, behind Canada, South Korea, and Russia.
The president laid out his strategy for getting the country to a goal of leading the world in number of college graduates by 2020 – a plan that includes three key steps:
-making college more affordable;
-making sure that college graduates are truly ready for the work force;
-making sure that more students who enroll in college actually graduate. A third of college students and over half of minority students do not earn a degree within 6 years
The president said, "A high school diploma is not going to be enough. Folks need a college degree. They need workforce training. They need a higher education. And so today I want to talk about the higher education strategy that we’re pursuing not only to lead the world once more in college graduation rates, but to make sure our graduates are ready for a career; ready to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy. "
The mostly student crowd waited in the 90 degree heat for hours to get in the gymnasium where the event was held.
Obama waved to the University of Texas football team, which was in the audience and gave the crowd the "Hook ‘em Horns" hand sign.
"I love Austin. Love Austin. I remember paying you a visit during the campaign,” the president said. “Mack Brown gave me a tour of the stadium, along with Colt and a couple other guys. And I got a photo with the Heisman.”
The president’s visit comes in the midst of Texas’ gubernatorial contest. Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, R, who is seeking reelection, had sought a meeting with President Obama to discuss border security. He had to settle for a handshake at the airport when the president arrived and the delivery of a letter asking for additional troops to be sent to the Texas-Mexico border.
Texas Democratic gubernatorial challenger Bill White was campaigning in the Dallas area today. He had no plans to meet with president, citing a tight campaign schedule.