After the Obama campaign initially insisted that an interview the president had with the Des Moines Register on Tuesday be kept off the record, the news media spent most of Wednesday morning calling the move a mistake that would make the president seem secretive.
But in a surprising twist, the campaign allowed the Iowa newspaper to release the transcript on Wednesday. In it Obama told the newspaper that, should he win in November, it’ll be due to Latino voters.
“The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” Obama said. “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. And this is a relatively new phenomenon.”
The Romney campaign fired back by pointing out that Obama failed to pass immigration reform in his first term, so there’s no reason to expect that he’ll succeed a second time around.
“It’s a fascinating glimpse into how President Obama has taken the Hispanic community for granted for the past four years,” spokesman Alberto Martinez said.
But there is reason to believe that Obama will have a much better shot at passing comprehensive reform in his second term than he did in his first, and it all boils down to what occurs on November 6. If Romney loses to a president dealing with a lagging economy and high unemployment, it’ll be because he failed to attract enough Latinos and independents, much of whom support efforts like the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform in general.
If the Republicans lose, they’ll be forced to spend the next years doing something worthy of Latino votes in 2014 and, most important for the party, in 2016. Passing comprehensive immigration reform — which used to be a bipartisan goal — would be the best way to show Latino and independent voters that the Republican Party is moving back toward the center on issues like immigration.
“I want to get it done,” the president said, “because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.”
One thing’s for sure: Obama’s off-the-record comments are much better than his opponent’s.