Can Romney win the youth vote?

“Every trillion dollars this president amasses, every year, guess who is going to pay that?” he asked. “Not me. I’m gone. I’m too old to pay it back. You’re going to pay it back.”

But there was no indication that Romney’s message resonated. Some of those watching called out “Obama 2012.” The first question was pointed: “So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” a woman said. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.” A short distance away on the campus, a group of young adults held up a blue sign spray-painted with this message: “Romney Fleecing America!”…

Romney is up against fierce competition. Obama is fighting hard to keep young-adult voters, visiting three colleges in battleground states this week to make speeches centered on his support for government programs that make attending college cheaper. His campaign thought it had a winning issue by touting Obama’s support for extending the current 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized federal loans for a year, only to be undercut when Romney announced his support for the extension days later. (Neither Obama nor Romney has offered any concrete suggestions about how the extension — estimated to cost $6 billion — should be paid for, although Romney did say it should be paid for with offsetting cuts.) The campaign is also fighting back against Obama’s general student-loan push: “What young people really want is not student loans, but a way to pay for their student loans,” said Schock yesterday in a conference call with reporters arranged by the Romney campaign.