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DNC features youth issues

The Democratic National Convention kicked off last night from Charlotte, N.C. with appeals to youth voters who will likely prove central to the political conversation in the coming weeks.

Kal Penn, comedian, former White House staffer and the DNC’s host, earned a prime-time spot last night to encourage young adults to get out and vote. As further incentive to get involved with President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, he told them “you don’t even have to put pants on.”

First Lady Michelle Obama, the night’s closing speaker, addressed the crippling student loan debt the First Couple faced when they were first married, saying their combined student payments were larger than their mortgage.

“When my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants,” she said.

Former Gov. Tim Kaine, who is currently the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s open Senate seat, also spoke during the afternoon, emphasizing the importance of Virginia’s participation in the upcoming election. Virginia voted for Obama in 2008, but has otherwise not gone blue since 1964, he said.

“A few years ago, few imagined that Virginia would be a battleground state,” Kaine said. “How did Virginia go from red to purple? We did it with grassroots excitement and hard work.”

Virginia is expected to be one of the closest of the swing states this fall and has been centrally targeted by both liberal and conservative candidates. Romney announced his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate at a rally in Norfolk, and the president has made the state a priority for campaign stops as well.