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Obama courts the student vote; Romney praised by fellow Mormon

By Kathleen Hennessey and Maeve Reston, Tribune Washington Bureau –

BOULDER, Colo. — While his campaign aides like to say they take nothing for granted, President Barack Obama showed a little confidence Sunday as he worked the crowd at a restaurant here.

Obama didn’t quite predict he would be sworn in for a second term next January, but he did predict the weather at the inauguration. Presumably, he meant his inauguration.

As Obama chatted up diners at the Buff Restaurant, a breakfast and lunch place near the University of Colorado campus, Jim Osborne stood up from his meal to greet the president. Osborne told Obama he had attended the last inauguration.

“It was cold that day,” Obama said. “This one is going to be warmer.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Osborne, who said later that he is an attorney from Los Angeles.

“That’s my goal,” Obama said.

(Obama’s weather prediction may be a safer bet than his political one; it was about 28 degrees for his big day, the coldest inauguration since Ronald Reagan’s second, according to the National Weather Service.)

The president was in Boulder for his fourth college town rally in a week, part of an effort by the campaign to encourage new young-voter registrations as students return to school. His visit was also part of a swing-state barnstorming that Obama has undertaken in the days leading to his arrival later this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Obama opened his remarks, as he has at each college stop, by urging people to visit a special website for registering voters. And when the crowd booed a reference to Republicans, he shot back his favorite reply.

“Don’t boo. Vote!” he said to a crowd estimated by local officials at 13,000.

As Obama sought to build momentum going into his convention, Republican nominee Mitt Romney was relaxing after his party’s gathering last week. Romney plans to spend the Labor Day weekend at his lakeside New Hampshire home, and later in the week was to mix debate practice with some campaign events.

Romney also heard himself lauded during a church visit Sunday as having cast his Mormon faith in its best light. In his acceptance address Thursday, Romney for the first time offered an intimate look at the role that his faith has played in his life and how his work in the church as a pastor helped shape him.

When Romney and his wife, Ann, attended church Sunday morning in Wolfeboro, N.H., his close friend J.W. “Bill” Marriott said the spotlight on Romney this week had drawn welcome attention to the good works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“There has never been as much positive attention to the church, thanks to the wonderful campaign of Mitt Romney and his family,” Marriott told the congregation during his testimonial, a part of the service when church members often speak about what their faith means to them.

“Today we see the church coming out of obscurity, and we see that 90 percent of what has been written … has been favorable. And that’s a great tribute to Mitt and Ann and their family for living such an exemplary life,” Marriott continued. “A life of love and compassion, a good Latter-day Saint life. A life of leadership, reaching out to others, and touching others, and worshiping the Lord and putting families and the church first.”

Now that the church is in the public eye, he added, “everybody is looking at us and saying, ‘Are you as good as the Romneys?’ And of course we all have to continue to do better, and live the commandments, and do the best we can to serve our church.”

The friendship between the Marriott and Romney families extends over many decades. Bill Marriott has been a major financial backer of Romney’s campaign, and for a time, Romney served on the board of Marriott International.

The Republican nominee’s parents, George and Lenore, were close friends with J. Willard Marriott, Bill Marriott’s father.

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