In a question-and-answer session after an address at the University of Chicago Monday afternoon, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney made the case that it’s not in the interests of young people to vote for Democrats because the party’s position on taxes and federal spending will leave the next generation bankrupt.

“I joke, and I don’t mean to be flip with this -- because I actually see truth in it -- I don’t see how a young American can vote for a Democrat,” Romney said when asked what economic message he would have for young people.

“I apologize for being so offensive in saying that, but I catch your attention. But I mean, in the humor, there’s some truth there. And I say that for this reason: that party is focused on providing more and more benefits to my generation, and amounting trillion-dollar annual deficits my generation will never pay for.”

He argued that while Democrats support “the greatest inter-generational transfer of wealth in the history of humankind,” the Republican Party is “consumed with the idea of getting federal spending down and creating economic growth and opportunity so we can balance our budget and stop putting these debts on you.”

“These debts are not frightening to people my age, because we’ll be gone,” he said.

A key part of the Republican message in the current election as well as the 2010 midterms has been the party’s framing of the national debt as a problem that extends beyond the current generation. The party argues that the country has a moral responsibility to begin driving down the debt now so as to avoid burdening future generations.

But exit poll data show that in every presidential election since 1992, 18-to-29-year-olds have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. In 2008, 66 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds voted for President Obama – the widest margin for either party in at least the past four decades.