Obama says his 'biggest failure' of the last four years is inability to overhaul immigration system

  • Obama admitted he was 'naive' about the inner workings of Washington
  • Grilled by hosts from Spanish-language channel Univision over failures on immigration reform
  • President criticised Romney for remarks calling 47% of Americans 'victims'

By Associated Press

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Barack Obama was peppered with tough questions on his failures as President on Thursday night as he took part in a candidate forum.

Addressing a large Latino television audience, the president said his 'biggest failure' was an inability to win an overhaul of the immigration system.

But he took swipes at his opponent Mitt Romney, saying the Republican candidate hasn’t 'gotten around a lot' if he believes that 47 per cent of Americans consider themselves victims and entitled to government help. 

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Sore points: Obama admitted where he had failed as President during a TV forum on Thursday, hosted by Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos, left, and Maria Elena Salinas at the University of Miami

Sore points: Obama admitted where he had failed as President during a TV forum on Thursday, hosted by Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos, left, and Maria Elena Salinas at the University of Miami

In suggesting his GOP rival was out of touch, Obama was reacting to secretly taped remarks by Romney in which the Republican declared that the 47 per cent of voters who support Obama represent Americans who don’t pay income taxes and 'who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them'.

Obama said Americans pay payroll taxes, gas taxes and state and sales taxes. He noted that those who don’t pay income taxes include workers who don’t make enough money to qualify, older Americans and students.

 

'When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot,' Obama said during an interview with Spanish language channel Univision.

The president later referenced the issue at a Tampa fundraiser, telling supporters he didn’t want his daughters and other young people to think 'that somehow half of the country is locked out' of pursuing success.

Taking the blame: Obama admitted he had not kept his promise on immigration reform but said that it wasn't for lack of trying

Taking the blame: Obama admitted he had not kept his promise on immigration reform but said that it wasn't for lack of trying

'I want everybody to be successful. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able or disabled, I want everybody to have a chance to succeed,' Obama said.

The forum earlier in the day on the campus of the University of Miami gave Obama a rebuttal of sorts. Romney spoke on Wednesday at the Univision forum, where he said his campaign was about 'the 100 per cent in America'.

Obama, who ran on a message of changing the partisan tone in Washington, said he had come to the conclusion that 'you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside'.

He went on to say that what he had accomplished since taking office was due to mobilizing 'the American people to speak out'.

'So something that I’d really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward,' he said.

All smiles: Obama reassured the largely Latino audience that he was still the right man for the top job in Washington

All smiles: Obama reassured the largely Latino audience that he was still the right man for the top job in Washington

Romney seized on the remarks to say that Obama had surrendered in the face of a broken Washington and major challenges.

'He said he can’t change Washington from inside. He can only change it from outside,' Romney told supporters in Sarasota, Florida.

'I can change Washington. I will change Washington. We’ll get the job done from the inside - Republicans and Democrats will come together. He can’t do it. His slogan was "Yes, we can." His slogan now is "No, I can’t."' This is time for a new president.'

The president faced tough questions on why he hadn’t accomplished comprehensive immigration reform, an important issue for Hispanic voters.

Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators, put it bluntly: 'You promised that and a promise is a promise and with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.'

Obama said he accepted responsibility but that he faced an economy 'on the verge of collapse' in his first year and blamed Republicans for abandoning support for comprehensive immigration reform.

What will Michelle say? Obama pigged out on french fries during a campaign stop at OMG! Burgers in Miami on Thursday

What will Michelle say? Obama pigged out on french fries during a campaign stop at OMG! Burgers in Miami on Thursday

Sneaking one: The First Lady has spent much of her time in the White House campaigning against junk food like french fries

Sneaking one: The First Lady has spent much of her time in the White House campaigning against junk food like french fries

He said there was 'the thinking that the president is somebody who is all-powerful and can get everything done'.

'What I confess I did not expect, and so I’m happy to take responsibility for being naive here, is that Republicans who had previously supported comprehensive immigration reform, my opponent in 2008 who had been a champion of it and who attended these meetings, suddenly would walk away,' he said.

Asked later in the interview to name his biggest failure, Obama cited a lack of comprehensive immigration reform, but added: 'It’s not for a lack of trying or desire.'

Obama’s Tampa fundraiser was attended by former Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and included a performance by Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder.

Vedder broke out a Hawaiian-made ukulele and joked: 'It’s got a little birth certificate right in there,' a reference to discredited claims that Obama was not born in the United States.

VIDEO: Obama courts Florida Hispanics in battle for votes... 

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Politics is a funny business. The whole must be examined, not just particular parties. To blame one party is folly. One must look at the 3 branches that were in play and how events unfolded. Each president has a role in success and failures as well. To put your head in the sand and not examine an individual president's failures especially the one currently in office is ludicrous! It's as if the past 4 years never happened. As we know ALL too well, the past 4 years have been a hardship under obama because of HIS failed policies. Obama is failing on ALL measures. But there are some that will not acknowledge the TRUTH and will go down on a sinking ship rather than admit it and save our country. Sad but true.

Click to rate     Rating   6

I was young during the horrible Reagan Recession. A big chain restaurant near me closed on New Years day. All the middle aged waitresses just spent all their money so that their children had Xmas. They were now broke, out of a job, there was no work. They were on the sidewalk crying. I graduated with a Chemistry degree and worked for big Pharma when Bush Sr.'s recession hit, my large company laid off 20,000 scientists. Many scientists went on to sell insurance, or cars. I stuck with it and starved it out. I now am a PhD, and have worked in cancer research for 15 years. Biotech start ups rely on investors. They ALL went under with Bush Jr.'s recession. I took a job as a researcher at a university for a third the pay. I am now back in industry, but my savings and my home are gone. I am tired of these repeated Republican recessions, and I'm tired of being told that HUGE tax cuts for millionaires, while I struggle, are the best thing for me. They aren't, and no way am I voting Republican.

Click to rate     Rating   10

That must have been difficult for Obama. When you have so many failures to choose from, it must be hard to pick just one.

Click to rate     Rating   17

I'm suer if he wins re-election he'll be jamming that down our throats too.

Click to rate     Rating   12

The Chapstick company must make a fortune everytime Obama speaks, because he apologizes and kisses a++ more than anybody! Pucker Up Mr. President!

Click to rate     Rating   13

Pandering to the benefits scroungers while social security, education, jobs and the debt are in the toilet

Click to rate     Rating   13

um yeah, THAT'S his only failure......

Click to rate     Rating   25

Of course he did he was talking on Univision a hispanic TV station.

Click to rate     Rating   26

Pandering for the illegal votes...

Click to rate     Rating   53

"The Obama economic agenda failed not because it was stopped, but because it was passed." - Paul Ryan And that goes for everything else Obama has cursed this country with.

Click to rate     Rating   41

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