June 22nd, 2012
03:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama links economy and immigration in spirited defense

Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) – President Barack Obama delivered an impassioned case for his re-election on Friday while defending his record on the economy and his newly stated immigration policy.

He highlighted the new stance, unveiled last Friday, as "the right thing to do" and took aim at his Republican rival over his previous statements regarding the DREAM Act that would have provided a permanent legal pathway for children of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as young people.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"Giving them a reason to hope, that was the right thing to do," Obama told the crowd at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, about his announcement last Friday.

He said Congress should still pass the DREAM Act, which failed in Congress in 2010, and called out Romney for saying earlier in the primary process that he would veto the bill if it crossed his desk.

"He said he would veto the DREAM Act and we should take him at his word," Obama said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. "I'm just saying," he added to laughter.

The president specifically pointed to proposals that have helped those in the Latino community, pointing to the expansion of Pell grants, small business tax cuts and health care reform, and contrasted them with those of Republicans who he said believe in a top down system.

"That's how they plan to do it, and I think they're wrong," Obama said.

Romney spoke before the same group Thursday. He called the president's recently announced policy a "temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election." As president, he said, he "won't settle for stop-gap measures" and would instead work with those on both sides of the aisle to find a "long-term solution." But he also did not say what he would do regarding the policy if elected.

His immigration policy, as further laid out in the speech, would include lifting caps on skilled worker visas, speeding up the process of applications for temporary agricultural work visas, reallocating green cards to those looking to keep their families together, green cards for those who receive an advance degree and a legal pathway to citizenship for anyone serving in the military.

The president last addressed the conference in 2008 as the Democratic presidential nominee. At the time he called for immigration reform that would "secure the borders" and "punish employers who exploit immigrant labor."

"That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day," Obama said in June of 2008.

However, he has failed to put forward a comprehensive immigration reform plan while in the White House. He backed the DREAM Act - legislation that would provide a legal pathway to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants - but it ultimately failed in Congress in 2010. Critics argue Obama did not make the issue a priority while Democrats controlled both Congressional chambers. Supporters have blamed a gridlocked Washington for failure to fully address the issue and point to successes within the Department of Homeland Security in deporting those in the country who had run-ins with the law.

It is those successes, the Obama administration has said, that led to the president's policy shift toward undocumented young people currently residing in the United States, now that there are more resources available.

The new directive under existing law, unveiled one week ago, will stop deporting young people in the United States illegally if they meet certain criteria. Those who met the requirements could then apply for a work permit for that time period. The applicants must be under the age of 30 and brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, have been in the country for at least five consecutive years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.

On Friday, Obama said he remains ready to pass the DREAM Act and accused Republicans of playing politics.

"My door has been open for three and a half years, they know where to find me," Obama said.

Romney's campaign capitalized on the president's 2008 address to NALEO, saying economic promises he made during that speech have gone unfulfilled.

"In 2008, Candidate Obama promised NALEO he would create new jobs and end the housing crisis," Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote in a statement. "Four years later, President Obama is back asking for more time. No election-year speech can cover up the President's job-killing policies that have led to 11% Hispanic unemployment and millions of Hispanics living in poverty. On Day One, Mitt Romney will take our country in a new direction and get our economy back on the right track."

Despite the announcement's close proximity to Election Day, members of the current administration have insisted the move was not political and instead the just and correct step for those hoping to excel and contribute to America.

But it is impossible to ignore the implications for November. Obama won 67% of Latino support in 2008 to Sen. John McCain's 31%, in a year when they represented a larger share of the voters than in 2004. The biggest breakthrough was in Florida, where he won 57% of the Latino vote, backed by strong showings among men, women and young people, in a state that historically supported Republican presidential candidates.

The Hispanic population in Florida and nationwide has continued to boom in recent years. They make up 22.5% of the population in the Sunshine State, according to 2010 census data, up from over 16% of the population in 2000. Although the voter registration figures among the demographic have increased, the jump has not matched the population spike.

More than 21 million Latinos will be eligible to vote nationwide this November, but just over 10 million are registered to vote, a disparity the Obama re-election campaign and that of Mitt Romney are hoping to close.

Recent polling shows a majority of likely voters support the president's policy shift on immigration, welcome news no doubt for the campaign that, like Team Romney, has increased voter outreach to Latino voters, particularly in competitive presidential election states with larger concentrations of eligible Hispanic voters, including Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

Obama campaign officials predicted the Latino population would represent the same percentage of the vote in 2012 that they did in 2008, at 9% of the electorate, but that more in the voting block would turn out to vote.

Both campaigns have released a consistent string of Spanish language television ads and web videos, in large part targeting battleground states.

Invoking familiar campaign themes from 2008, Obama used Friday's address in part to energize influential Latino leaders.

"Whether our ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or brought here on slave ships, whether they signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande, their diversity has not only enriched this country, it helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known," he said.

Also see:

Romney set for biggest fund-raising day yet

Miriam Adelson gets a refund

Obama campaign: Setting expectations for a brawl

Pro-Obama super PAC raises $4 million in May


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Immigration • Latinos • President Obama
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Namejkane fl SEND THE THREE TIME LOSER romney HOME AND MAKE IT FOUR.

    Economy would be much better by now if the republican bafoon party was not trying to sabatage every thing Obama has tried to do to help the economy ,republicans are totally to blame and will pay the price in Nov ,no matter how much money they spend on their loser canadate romney the clown !!!!

    June 22, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. WiredweirdinSF

    The most incompetent, inept, corrupt, union toady president in history will do and say anything to get reelected. He loves the taxpayer financed vacations for him and the family.

    June 22, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    "he has failed to put forward a comprehensive immigration reform plan while in the White House"

    That is one of around 70 specific failed promises of his 2008 list on the politifacts site. I will not be voting for him again. This time I will probably go for the Green party because I will vote my conscience.

    June 22, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    Good speech, very good punch line

    “Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.” Washington post
    So Romney don’t care about our jobs

    June 22, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Right now, the Obama offensive line is running rough shod all over the Romney defensive line and secondary. Can't wait for the aerial game.

    June 22, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. Donna

    The right thing to do !!! Is to put the people of this country who are struggling financially first!! Of course its the right thing to do when it is to promote oneself for an election. If he had been so concern for those other causes why didn't he do something about them until now??

    June 22, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Moderate

    Romney and Republicans have the audacity to claim that Obama did nothing when democrats briefly 'controlled' both house and senate. In 2010, the Dream Act was filibustered by Republicans in the Senate twice. It doesn't matter if you have a simple majority in the Senate anymore – the Republicans can block any legislation they want, and have been, through abuse of the filibuster. Educate yourselves people.

    June 22, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    Yes, economy is definitely improving gradually. The corrupt, inept congress need to wake up to pass Jobs Bill these congress idiots won in 2010. It is 2012. Yes, on Obama.2012.
    PS: Bain-Capital idiot ships jobs to India, china, phyllipenes etc,

    June 22, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. No fault of my own

    Not only have illegal invaders slit the throats of the working man they are responsible for 75% of the crime here in denver radioreference dot com monitor police and ems frequencies for yourself they must have killed 250000Americans in the last 50 years look at lapd online all most wanted 95% spanic. I knew newt was the sh samich. I dont care if an illegal sailed with washington , REMOVE THEM! The states want the laws ENFORCED PERIOD! Theyll bankrupt EVERY STATE! LOOK AT CALIFORNIA FOR GOD SAKE! Mehico is a cultural catastrophe and our govt has helped them spread their societal ills across our great nation. We would have the highest standard of living on earth if it wasnt for the constant stranglehold on our economy due to the invasion and occupation of our soverign land. Look noone wants to break up families just be sure to get them all on the same bus with the anchor offspring seated up front. What about all the american families torn apart by the federal invasion policy in effect. The

    June 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Namejkane fl SEND THE THREE TIME LOSER romney HOME AND MAKE IT FOUR.

    You have to be stupid and brain dead to vote for any republican bafoon party canadate in Nov ,they blocked the dream act ,they had their chance and blew it ,vote for Obama if your Latino ,no brainer !!!!! Romnycare the clown will go down in flames along with the rest of the republican bafoons in Nov .

    June 22, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    This president has worked hard and has also given Hispanics a real chance. He has bought your dreams to life and had he been given the right amount of help, would have done a lot more. In my opinion, he deserves a second term and I would not understand it IF Hispanics voted for the user instead.

    June 22, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. mikle

    This Obama don't have anything to be president.

    June 22, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Keeping it Real

    Rudy NYC

    Right now, the Obama offensive line is running rough shod all over the Romney defensive line and secondary. Can't wait for the aerial game.

    -

    Unfortunately, for Obama they are flagged for multiple personal fouls, illegal shift, off-sides and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties negating any perceived progress. Obama can't throw worth a damn, and he doesn't scramble well resulting in sacks and turnovers. His backup is worthless, and will never see the field.To make matters worse, they just fired one of the coaches and tried to hire a guy with mob connections and are now being sanctioned by the league. Obama is down 42-3 in the 4th.

    June 22, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Dave

    No one really buys into what Obama is selling anymore. The return on our wasted billions has not materialized.

    June 22, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Bootstomper

    Let's see if I'm a minority voter I'm going to vote Republican? I don't think so.

    June 22, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. Dave

    Those posting here forget that Obama and the democrats controlled Congress for the first two years of his administration. Even the democrats would not pass Obama's ridiculous budgets.

    June 22, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Right now, the Obama offensive line is running rough shod all over the Romney defensive line and secondary. Can't wait for the aerial game."

    Good analogy. I can't wait for the aerial game either. And just to put the arial game in terms that show I don't always agree with Obama: Obama's going to go drone on Deputy Doublethink and like he's an innocent civilian living too close to a suspected Al Qeada hideout.

    June 22, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. Iamnotfooled

    There is no comparison to Romney bashing the President and President Obama stating his accomplishments and what he will do in the future. Period.

    June 22, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. indie52

    I wonder if Obama did exactly what Reagan did if that would be OK with the GOP. After all Reagan is #1 in their book.

    June 22, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Prosperid

    Keeping it Real

    Rudy NYC

    Right now, the Obama offensive line is running rough shod all over the Romney defensive line and secondary. Can't wait for the aerial game.

    -

    Unfortunately, for Obama they are flagged for multiple personal fouls, illegal shift, off-sides and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties negating any perceived progress. Obama can't throw worth a damn, and he doesn't scramble well resulting in sacks and turnovers. His backup is worthless, and will never see the field.To make matters worse, they just fired one of the coaches and tried to hire a guy with mob connections and are now being sanctioned by the league. Obama is down 42-3 in THE 4th
    --------------------------------------------

    AND YOU ARE THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF A PARTICULAR AUDIENCE THAT IS BLIND, CRYING FOUL. WHEN CLEARLY
    YOU SEE THAT YOUR TEAM IS IN THE WRONG.

    June 22, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Dave

    To WireWierd: Check you facts, The First Family has paid for all their own trips. You must listen to Faux News.

    June 22, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. BLKMANinAmerica

    repuks are WRONG WRONG WRONG, give em heck President Obama.

    June 22, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    "Unfortunately, for Obama they are flagged for multiple personal fouls, illegal shift, off-sides and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties negating any perceived progress. Obama can't throw worth a damn, and he doesn't scramble well resulting in sacks and turnovers. His backup is worthless, and will never see the field.To make matters worse, they just fired one of the coaches and tried to hire a guy with mob connections and are now being sanctioned by the league. Obama is down 42-3 in the 4th."
    --------------
    That confabulating panic attack has been brought to you courtesy of "Keepin it Real".

    June 22, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  24. Name Pamma

    BO will say anything!!
    Wonder what holder has over Obama?
    Maybe birth certificate info??
    Just wondering??

    June 22, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. mike t

    This person obama the so called president of the United States which have become the divided states,has had 2 years of dem control of the house senate and presidentsy and the only thing he could do was force the affordable health bill.He has done nothing to help blacks at 21%unemployment ,hispanics ,home owners or the working middle class or the over all unemployment problem.Yet know his focus is on social issues not the economic perils facing America.Its all about votes and his remaining king .He has had ample time to show his concern for America and its people .Dont be fooled again.

    June 22, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
1 2 3