WARRENSBURG, Mo. — President Barack Obama visited the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg today to tout his plans for a new economic agenda and praise Missouri’s own Innovation Campus.
The President first visited Knox College in Illinois before traveling to UCM to laude the University’s involvement in the Missouri Innovation Campus program, as well as tout an economic agenda he will be rolling out over the next few weeks.
“I’m taking this message to cities and towns just like this one,” Obama said. “Frankly, I don’t have time to wait on Congress with some of these issues.”
Obama spent much of his remarks discussing education and highlighting what he calls the “working formula” at UCM. The school takes part in the Missouri Innovation Campus which partners the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and UCM with local employers, including those in healthcare and engineering, to allow students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree two years after their high school graduation with no debt.
The program was sponsored and carried by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Kansas City, who was in attendance at the event. Kraus said he was “honored and pleased” that the President singled out his program though he doesn’t agree with many of Obama’s economic policies.
“We happen to agree about this innovation campus,” Kraus said. “There’s a lot we don’t agree on, but I’m very happy that the President recognizes the value of this program, and the value it has for real Missourians.”
Obama said he would be delivering his message for the next few weeks for a new economic plan as well as investments in education. Obama said pushed for nationwide preschool for “every 4-year-old in the country,” and pledged to submit a plan to provide high-speed Internet access to 99 percent of all public school children in the country.
No Presidential trip is without politics, and Republicans in Missouri, including Sen. Roy Blunt, rebutted Obama’s remarks early on, highlighting their efforts to cut taxes in the state as an indicator of sound economic policy.
Several Missouri lawmakers of both parties were in attendance, however two Democrats in statewide offices were notably absent from the event.
Chris Koster, Attorney General and 2016 gubernatorial candidate, was invited but did not attend the event, citing obligations to visit a crime scene for a case he is prosecuting. Some Republicans speculated on social media Wednesday that Koster doesn’t want to be associated with Obama, who lost the state handily to Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
Jason Kander, Missouri Secretary of State and the youngest statewide elected official in the country has long been discussed as a future candidate for high office one day. Kander was also notably absent from the event, his office did not immediately respond to requests for a statement.
But the Democratic Party wasn’t wholly without representation. Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and several Democratic state representatives were present for the event.
Response was enthusiastic from a crowd largely comprised of students and alumni, particularly as Obama spent so much time discussing lowering the cost of higher education, formulating new ways to graduate students into the global economy, and keeping student loans from burdening young people with “crushing, unfair” debt.
Obama traveled back to Washington D.C. after the event, but is scheduled to fly around the country in the coming weeks to deliver similar statements.