President Obama said Tuesday that if he is to win a second term, it will be because of support from Latino voters.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, which was originally conducted off the record but made public Wednesday, Obama said he is "confident" that he can get immigration reform done next year. He credited his strong Latino support in large part due to the Republican missteps.
"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 told the influential Iowa paper.
The president's comments are notable for their candor.
Obama currently has the support of 70 percent of Latino voters, according to two national polls this week. That's higher than the 67 percent he received in 2008, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's share is well below Sen. John McCain's support four years ago.
The Romney campaign criticized Obama's remarks, noting his 2008 promise to put forth an immigration reform bill during his first year in the White House.
"It's a fascinating glimpse into how President Obama has taken the Hispanic community for granted for the past four year," said Romney adviser Alberto Martinez. "He's caught making secret promises to an editorial board in Iowa, which also happens to be a promise he made in 2008, a promise he failed to keep, and a promise he doesn't repeat publicly. The whole episode underscores why millions of Hispanics are deeply disappointed with President Obama."
Despite a struggling economy and lack of progress on immigration reform, Democrats and Obama have effectively been able to paint Romney as an unacceptable alternative and have frequently highlighted the GOP's efforts to block immigration reform in Congress.
Obama has long asserted that the Romney and the Republican Party's move to the right on the issue of immigration would come back to bite them.
"I don't think it requires us to go negative in the sense of us running a bunch of ads that are false, or character assassinations," Obama told Univision News during a roundtable with reporters last year. "It will be based on facts … We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won't even comment on them, we'll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds."
When asked how he would break gridlock on Capitol Hill next year, he said that Republicans would be encouraged to get on board with an immigration bill if Latino voters break significantly away from the party.
"The second thing I'm confident we'll get done next year is immigration reform," he said. "George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they're going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it's the right thing to do and I've cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008."
Obama told Univision in April that he will "try" to get immigration reform done in the first year of his second term.
But at a Univision-sponsored event last month, he called the lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform legislation the "biggest failure" of his first term.
"My biggest failure is that we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done … but it's not for lacking of trying or desire," Obama said.
"I haven't gotten everything done that I want to get done," Obama added. "That's why I'm running for a second term."