HEMPSTEAD, New York — For the past 10 months, MTV News' Power of 12 team has been crisscrossing the nation asking young voters to let us know what is on their minds in the run-up to the November 6 presidential election.
You've told us you're worried about jobs, the economy, paying for college, health care, the national debt and women's reproductive rights.. You've also told us you're not necessarily hearing either President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney address all your concerns.
So we tracked down the traveling spokespeople for both men recently and asked them to explain how their respective candidates are addressing the worries of young voters.
Jennifer Psaki, President Obama's traveling press secretary
How President Obama is reaching out to young voters: "There is not group of people in this country where there is more at stake than young people. There are 15 million more who have turned 18 since the last election. Those are all new voters, so he's speaking directly to them every time he goes out on the campaign trail. Every time he talks about the Affordable Health Care Act, he's speaking directly to the 3.1 million young people who are covered by their parent's health insurance.
"Every time he talks about the importance of overturning 'don't ask, don't tell,' every time he talks about investing in areas like clean energy, he's talking to the young people who are going to be looking for jobs, who maybe want to join the military."
How the campaign is trying to re-energize voters who may be disillusioned by the political process: "We have a youth vote coordinator in every single swing state in this country. We're doing voter drives on virtually every college campus ... We know the last four years have been hard. They've been hard for young people ... but what we want people to remember is that there's a lot at stake: they could lose access to affordable health care."
The difference between how Obama and Romney approach young voter's concerns: "He knows young people care about many different issues: access to an affordable education, making sure they have Pell Grants and can afford to pay their tuition ... but also issues like gay marriage, bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. I think when young people look at the difference between what the candidates are offering, what their platform is, what they'll fight for and what they'll do in another four years, the choice is pretty stark."
Andrea Saul, Romney's traveling press secretary
How Romney is reaching out to the 45 million voters ages 18-29: "One in two recent college graduates can't find a job. Children are moving back home with their parents after they graduate college. That's not something that any recent college graduate wants to do ... so Governor Romney's message truly is one of getting people back to work in good-paying jobs. On the tactical front ... a lot of [what we're doing] is online. Twitter starts the conversation and then on Facebook you'll see things later that night on what [topics] were discussed during the day ... Then we're able to take those conversations and turn it into volunteers and groups that support Gov. Romney."
Has Gov. Romney energized young Republican voters with his message?: "What we see online, with our Facebook users for instance [is that] we have a 20 percent participation rate, whereas the Obama campaign has about a 5 percent participation rate. So even though he's been able to build this massive organization online because he's been president for four years, we have people that are more involved."
Are there specific plans Gov. Romney has to address those voters' concerns about paying back college loans and getting jobs after school?: "Helping on the student-loan front is not much help if you don't have an income. His plan is to have a vibrant economy, get people back to work [and] we're going to lower tax rates. Young people are the first to tell you, ones that do have a job, that when they look at their first paycheck they didn't realize how much they were going to have to give away to the government."
Some voters are concerned that if Gov. Romney repeals Obamacare as promised that they won't be able to stay on their parent's coverage until age 26. What's the campaign's message on that?: "Gov. Romney has [said] there will be plans that ensure children will have the option to stay on their parents' plans. What he doesn't want is a government takeover of health care. So his plan is to put the power back in the states, so each state can fashion a plan that fits its citizens best."
Check out our sit down with the president on Friday, "Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview With the President," which airs at 5 p.m. E.T. (tape delayed PT) and stick with MTV's Power of 12 throughout the 2012 election season.