Though she was one of the 4,000-plus students to score a lottery ticket for President Obama’s speech at Florida Atlantic University’s basketball arena Tuesday, Ingdra Zaw wasn’t feeling particularly lucky.

“I didn’t really like Obama,” says the undergrad majoring in biology. “My whole family is against him, and a lot of my friends are against him.”

But by the time the 44th president of the United States put the finishing touches on a 34-minute talk that, in part, explained how college students could benefit if the wealthiest 1 percent shouldered a heavier tax burden, Zaw had changed her tune.

“After seeing him in person and hearing what he believes in, I’m definitely voting for the president [in the November election],” said Zaw, who pays for her own schooling and holds a part-time job. “I like the fact that he is talking about tuition and making it easier on students. I need that.”

The national story on this day folded Obama’s FAU speech into political perspective as the president sandwiched his Boca appearance between South Florida fundraising stops that raised more than $2 million for his re-election campaign—all while he attacked Republicans for seeking to give “over $4 trillion worth of additional tax cuts, including to folks like me who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them.”

Locally, however, Obama’s explanation of the “Buffett Rule,” which would tax earnings of $1 million and beyond at a minimum rate of 30 percent with no special breaks and no loopholes, resonated with those students facing high tuition costs and mounting student loan debt. (Analysts say that the Buffett measure has no chance of passing in the Senate, but that Democrats still want the Republicans’ vote on the record in this election year.)

“If we do that,” Obama told FAU students, “then it makes it affordable for us to be able to say for those people who make under $250,000 a year—like 98 percent of American families do—then your taxes don’t go up. And we can still make those investments in things like student loans and college and science and infrastructure and all the things that make this country great.”

Obama further broke down the proposed Republican tax cuts for the enthusiastic crowd, explaining that each millionaire and billionaire in the country, on average, would receive at least $150,000.

“Here’s what $150,000 means,” he said. “This could pay for a tax credit that would make a year of college more affordable for students like you. Plus a year’s worth of financial aid for students like you. Plus a year’s worth of prescription drug savings for one of your grandparents. Plus a new computer lab for this school. Plus a year of medical care for a veteran in your family who went to war and risked their lives fighting for this country. … $150,000 could pay for all of these things combined. Think about that.”

The sentiment hit home for Terri Samuels, a graduate student at FAU studying psychology.

“I am going to graduate school, and student loans right now are 6.8 percent,” said Samuels, who shook the president’s hand after his speech. “By the time I’m finished with graduate school, I’ll be paying $70,000 instead of the normal $40,000. … Students should not be forgotten [in this country].”

Obama, who will return to Boca on Oct. 22 to debate likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University, became the first sitting president to visit FAU since Lyndon Johnson attended the university’s dedication ceremony in 1964. Students with the lottery tickets stood for hours in a line that wound through campus before passing through a security check to enter the arena; more than 100 media covered the event. A dozen or so protesters held court outside one of the parking areas, holding signs that ranged from specific policy complaints to simply “Abort Obama.”

Click here for a complete transcript of the president’s speech at FAU.

Photo By: Regina Kaza //

Photo By: Charles Pratt //

Photo By: Charles Pratt //