The president’s remarks came during a town hall interview co-hosted by cable news station Univision and Facebook on Thursday.
“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 of Romney’s secretly recorded remarks at a May 2012 dinner with high-dollar donors to his campaign.
The President added that even though 47 percent of voters supported Senator John McCain during the 2008 election, he believes his role is to work just as hard for everyone in the nation.
During the town hall, President Obama was faced with tough questions from audience members and also journalists Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas. The questions were about education, the absence of Obama’s promised immigration reform and an apparent lack of preparedness for the 9/11 attacks in Libya.
“This should be a vital decision that guides you in this upcoming election,” Obama said regarding education and the college dropout rate among Hispanics. He stated that his education plans included expanding Pell Grants in order to make higher education more affordable and hiring 100,000 new math and science teachers. “That’s how teachers do better, students do better, the likelihood of strikes become lower,” Obama said, referencing the recent teachers union strike in Chicago.
The President also said additional federal funding will be allocated to schools that create programs to focus on dropout rates. Romney’s plan, according to Obama, would be to cut education funding by 20 percent and roll back tax cuts that would help middle-class families afford higher education for their children, among other things.
Ramos, in introducing the topic of immigration reform, told Obama he had made a pledge to reform the system. “And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise,” the journalist said.
“There’s the thinking that the President is somebody who is all-powerful and can get everything done,” Obama said in response, explaining to the audience how difficult it is to pass legislation.
He explained that his support for immigration reform has not wavered, and blamed Republicans for slowing reform down. He also complained about the restrictions current immigration law place on his agenda, saying, “Until we have a law in place that provides a pathway for legalization and/or citizenship for the folks in question, we’re going to be — continue to be bound by the law, and that’s a challenge.”
Obama also spoke about the attacks in Libya, calling them “inexcusable violent acts” that were “representative of the attitudes of the Libyan people towards America.” The President promised justice against those who perpetrated the attacks. “The one thing we can’t do is withdraw from the region, because the United States continues to be the one indispensable nation,” he said.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke with Univision on Wednesday. The Obama town hall will be rebroadcast tonight at 10 p.m. EST on Univision in Spanish.