In a roundtable discussion following his speech in Reno on Tuesday, President Barack Obama recognized that Nevada is at the center of the country's economic crisis.
"We went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and in many ways Nevada was the epicenter of this crisis," Obama said. "There was a lot of loose credit floating around a housing bubble, that spurred reckless behavior on the part of Wall Street. And when that whole house of cards came crashing down, Nevada got hit harder than just any place else."
The president met with reporters from The Record-Courier, Nevada Appeal and Lahontan Valley News.
He said his administration is working to use Nevada's assets to rebuild the economy.
"We are putting in place infrastructure projects all across the country including the state of Nevada," he said. "It meant we are developing clean energy strategies, and Nevada has been the home of some of those promising clean energy projects anywhere in the world."
The president addressed the fact that property values have fallen more than 50 percent, and what he is doing to help Nevada's housing market recover.
"There are no easy solutions when someone bought a home for $300 thousand and now it's worth just 100 thousand," he said. "Last time in Reno we talked about the refinancing program that families here are benefiting from that lets them take advantage of historically low rates even though their homes are still under water. People are saving themselves up to $3,000 a year. That makes a difference in paying the bills."
He acknowledged there is a lot of work to be done to get back to where Nevada was before the economic crisis.
"So we've got a long way to go, and frankly everything we do is focused on strengthening the housing market, and making sure that middle class families have more disposable income," Obama said. "Because, my belief is when the economy grows from the middle, and from the bottom, then we prosper, and that's one of the big differences in this election."
The president disagreed with Republican opponent Gov. Mitt Romney's plan, which he characterized as cutting taxes for the wealthy as the answer to digging the country out of this hole.
"I think that for us to continue to work on education, making sure we are developing new energy sources of American home-grown energy, making sure we're building the infrastructure that we need to develop, making sure we're not laying off teachers and firefighters, and others who provide valuable services to our communities and contribute to the overall economy of the region, I think that's the path forward."
In his speech at Truckee Meadows Community College, Obama stressed the importance of higher education being available to anybody who wants it.
Former regent and Foothill resident Jill Derby addressed the audience prior to the president's speech. She shares Obama's passion for education in Nevada.
"President Obama's commitment to education is indisputable," she said. "He's fighting for his daughters, my son and daughter, and the children here."
Joe Crowley, former University of Nevada, Reno president, said keeping college affordable is critical in making the economy last.
"It's an economic imperative for the many, and it must be within the reach of every family in America," he said. "This country was built on education. This is a personal matter for President Obama and the First Lady, both of whom went to college on loans."
Gardnerville resident Rose Lopez-Crazysnake was impressed by the president's passion and focus in his speech.
"He is very impassioned about education, and it was an intense message he gave to students," she said. "It's pretty obvious he has found some issues in his 3-1/2 years of his presidency that hit home with himself and the voter base here."
Lake Tahoe resident and Douglas County school board member Cindy Trigg was one of the lucky few to meet and have her picture taken with the president.
"It was an honor. I was able to tell him thank you, and I was honored that he was my son's commander in chief," she said. "He said, 'Tell your son thank you very much for his service to our country.'"