WASHINGTON (CNN) – Barack Obama criticized his Republican presidential opponent, Senator John McCain, for not standing firm in his support for immigration reform in the face of opposition from his own party.
“I know Senator McCain used to buck his party by fighting for comprehensive reform – and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his stance, and said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote,” Obama told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gathered in Washington.
“When it came time to write his party’s platform, comprehensive reform never made it in. So you’ve got to ask yourself: if Senator McCain won’t stand up to opponents of reform at his own convention, how can you trust him to stand up for change in Washington?”
McCain’s support for comprehensive immigration reform nearly killed his candidacy in 2007 and he later came out in favor of greater emphasis on securing the nation’s borders in any future legislation. Now, however, he references his fight for reform as a mark of his maverick credentials.
Obama also defended his role as a community organizer, something that was mocked by several speakers at the Republican Party convention, including vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
“I was pretty surprised when I heard our opponents making fun of that work last week at their convention – mocking what so many Americans do every day in church groups and unions and the PTA to serve struggling communities. Frankly, I don’t think it’s particularly funny that people are losing their jobs and their homes,” he said.
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The Democratic presidential nominee also told the group he considers Latino voters crucial in this election. “I’m not taking a single Hispanic vote for granted in this campaign. I need you. I need you to win.”
In that vein, Obama heads to Colorado Monday and will be campaigning out West.