September 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm
President Obama took aim at Mitt Romney for disparaging “47 percent” of Americans, saying Thursday that his own impression of America is very different from the one his opponent articulated during a May fundraiser.
Speaking at a Univision town-hall meeting at the University of Miami, Obama said people “want a hand up, not a handout.”
The president portrayed Romney’s suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are government-dependent “victims,” as evidence his opponent is out of touch.
“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 in response to a question about Romney’s remarks.
“Are there people that abuse the system? Yes, both at the bottom and at the top,” Obama added, noting that there are millionaires who he said pay no income taxes.
“Americans work hard, and if they are not working right now I promise you they want to go to work,” Obama said to cheers.
The comments marked Obama’s most extensive remarks to date about the Romney video, which was secretly taped during a May fundraising dinner in Boca Raton and published Monday.
While the president was asked about Libya, education and the economy, nearly half of the hour-long forum was devoted to immigration.
Asked about his failure to deliver on the promise he made in 2008 to pass immigration reform during his first year, Obama said he accepted responsibility for falling short on the issue.
“What I’ll say is this, I haven’t gotten everything done that I wanted to get done. That‘s why I’m running for a second term,” the president said.
While Obama said not passing immigration reform was the “biggest failure” of his presidency, he also pointed the finger at Republicans for abandoning their support.
“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. “That’s what I did not anticipate.”
Obama, who continues to lead Romney by wide margins among Hispanic voters, said he believes he is the right candidate for Latino voters in November.
“The issue here for voters is whose vision best represents the aspirations, not just of the Latino community, but of all Americans who believe that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And that candidate I believe is talking to you right now,” Obama said to sustained applause.