May 25, 2013
Obama offers a glimpse of his second-term priorities
US President Barack Obama predicted passage of immigration reform and a deficit-reduction deal, offering a fresh glimpse of his second-term agenda as he fights for votes in the final stretch of the tight race for the White House.
In a newspaper interview released on Wednesday ahead of an eight-state campaign blitz that began in Iowa, Obama also suggested Republicans were bolstering his re-election effort by alienating Hispanics ahead of the Nov. 6 vote.
He told the Des Moines Register he was confident that comprehensive immigration reform would be approved next year and predicted he would strike a deal with Republicans in the U.S. Congress within six months to reduce the budget deficit.
He made the comments in an interview with the newspaper's editors that was originally conducted off the record. After the newspaper complained about the restriction, the White House released a transcript.
"Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community," Obama said in the interview.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney has joined many in his party in taking a tough approach to illegal immigration, a stance that has helped Obama open a substantial lead in polls among Hispanics.
The growing electoral clout of Hispanics, who now comprise 16 percent of the U.S. population, could make a difference in election battleground states like Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
Two weeks before the election, Obama and Romney are locked in a close battle and are competing furiously for key voting blocs like Hispanics and women.
The effort to win women voters also came to the forefront on Wednesday with a controversy over comments about rape by Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.
Obama's campaign moved quickly to link Romney with Mourdock, who said in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly on Tuesday that pregnancy caused by rape is "something God intended to happen."
Obama believed the comment was "outrageous and demeaning to women," said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki, adding that she was perplexed Romney would not demand an ad he filmed in support of Mourdock be taken off the air.