One of the things that Obama talked about doing if elected, though, was passing comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, the president focused on health care reform during his first two years in office, a time when both houses of Congress were in Democratic hands. Immigration reform stalled. Even the Dream Act came up short in the Senate, blocked by Republicans but also by five Democrats.
"I've had people very upset with me even though I don't have a vote in the Congress and I've been on this issue for a very very long time. So yes, these are things that we'll have to overcome," Villaraigosa acknowledged. "I think there's a big difference between these two parties when it comes to this issue, and I think that's why you see the chasm growing in terms of Latino support for the president."
Another area of discontent with the president among those in his own party is his stance on same-sex marriage. Villaraigosa recently went so far as to say that Democrats should take a stand on the issue because it is "basic to who we are," despite Obama not supporting same-sex marriage.
"I think marriage equality should be part of our platform," the mayor said. "I also respect the process. And the process is that our party has to come together around that issue, and they very well may do that."
Villaraigosa, it seems, clearly feels a bond with Obama, drawing parallels between him and the president on several occasions during the interview. Both men broke through racial barricades, stormed into office with sky-high expectations but later encountered obstacles because of the nation's economic downturn. Elected in 2005 amid a fervor about the so-called "Pop Star Mayor," Villaraigosa soon ran into trouble. He admitted to an extramarital affair with a reporter. He oversaw a city hurt by the recession. He faced criticism for supposedly caring more about the glitz of the job than the daily grind. He was fined more than $40,000 for accepting free tickets to basketball games and concerts. Even this year, when Villaraigosa was given the convention gig, a group of L.A. city workers said on Twitter, "Let's hope Mayor Fail doesn't advance politically."
"I'm so tired of the cynicism of the folks who just spent their time, you know, throwing rocks at the man in the arena as President Roosevelt once said. You know, I want to focus on my job and that's what I'm going to do," Villaraigosa said. "Ultimately, you know, people will assess your time in public service. I hope they'll assess it positively, but I'm not in control of that. I've just got to focus on my job and realize that the chattering classes are going to do and say what they want, and you've just got to focus on the task at hand."
Looking back at his time in office, Villaraigosa said "without question" the breakup of his family was the hardest part of his tenure.
"You're not just an elected person, but a father as well, a family person. That probably was the low point. Not probably – it was."