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Obama, first lady plug college opportunity

President Barack Obama reiterated Thursday that he will use executive action and the bully pulpit to bypass Congress if needed – this time, on educational issues.

“I’m going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this,” he said at a White House event to promote efforts to help more students afford and graduate from college. “And I’m also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.”

Obama has warned lawmakers that he will use “my pen and my phone” to change administrative rules and rally nonprofits and businesses to new initiatives, rather than wait for new legislation. 

The president and first lady Michelle Obama, who also spoke at the event, both called educational opportunity a defining factor of their lives.

“The fact is if we hadn’t made a commitment as a country to send more people to college, Michelle and me, and maybe a few of you,  wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

First lady Michelle Obama, who spoke before the president, said that she plans to devote “more and more” of her time to education issues in the remaining years of her husband’s presidency.

Noting that many students don’t even consider colleges that they think are out of reach, Mrs. Obama said that even her own choice to go to top-tier university Princeton was influenced by her brother’s recruitment as an athlete there.

“The truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit and I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to a school like that,” she said.