By Moni Basu and Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) –President Barack Obama admitted to Spanish-language network Univision Thursday that his greatest failure was the lack of comprehensive immigration reform, but many Latino voters said the president still has their vote.
Co-host Jorge Ramos, a strong advocate for comprehensive reform, kept after Obama to acknowledge that he had not made good on his campaign pledges. For pushing the president so hard, Ramos earned kudos from Dylan Byers of Politico, who wrote:
"It's difficult to imagine a Brian Williams or a Bob Schieffer looking President Obama in the eye and saying, 'You promised that, and a promise is a promise. And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.' Indeed, it's the sort of move most moderators avoid at all costs. And yet, it's the very question Ramos asked of Obama."
Ramos, Byers wrote, has chutzpah. But perhaps more importantly, he anchors for Univision, the network for this campaign's coveted Latino demographic.
Obama admitted he was sidetracked on immigration reform but said the economy had to take precedence. He also blamed Republicans in Congress.
"Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure is that we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done," he said. "But it's not for lack of trying or desire."
CNN correspondent Rafael Romo questioned whether Obama would have made such a strong admission in any other forum.
"I wonder if he would have said a different thing if he had been speaking in the middle of a debate," Romo said.
Later, Ramos' co-host, Maria Elena Salinas, grilled Obama on the 1.5 million deportations under his watch.
Obama followed opponent Mitt Romney, who spoke Wednesday in another "Meet the Candidates" forum hosted by Univision.
Obama still draws strong support from Latino voters. The latest Gallup Pollshows him with a 66% to 26% lead among registered Hispanic voters. And given Romney's remarks about self-deportations and winning the presidency more easily had he been Latino, many observers say it's doubtful that Obama's admission will have a significant impact.
Latina blogger Elianne Ramos said Obama came across as sincere because he owned up to not having passed comprehensive immigration reform. She said she was proud of Univision for pushing so hard on an issue that is important to the Latino community.
"He wasn’t necessarily trying to gloss the answer over," Ramos said.
Tequila Party founder Dee Dee Garcia, however, said Jorge Ramos’ questioning wasn't fair.
She said Obama delivered on deferred deportations for the children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors.
“So he did tackle immigration reform,” said Garcia, who was a Republican for 20 years and voted for George W. Bush. The Tequila Party was her answer to the Tea Party, which she blames for heightened opposition to immigration.
Others reacted on Univision’s Facebook page:
“At least we know that he doesn’t want to deport children of undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. at a very young age,” said commenter Liliana Salazar Mutzelburg.
Commenter Mercedes Bonilla-Barrera said: “He [Obama] convinced me during his convention but tonight he left me with some doubts but at least he didn’t skew away from answering any questions.”
Another commenter, Maripaz Chavez, urged Latinos to give Obama more time to accomplish what he promised. “He stands by Hispanics and without us there is no future so let’s stick with our president and we will we see results in the future, okay?” Chavez said.
Some thought the Univision anchors were being tough because people know them to be advocates of immigration reform.
Others thought their colors showed.
“Tonight Marie Elena Salinas was more content than the other night,” said Lissette Oramas, a Facebook commenter. “She was too happy and it was embarrassing because she is a journalist and she should remain neutral.”
Salinas told CNN Friday that Obama’s remarks resonated.
“It’s important that in this particular forum he admitted he was a failure,” she said.
Freelance blogger and journalist Sara Ines Calderon said Univision succeeded in holding the president accountable.
“Obama did back peddle a bit on his promises but we [Americans] should know what the executive branch can and cannot do,” she said.“We should know what our politicians are and aren’t capable of but they shouldn’t make promises they can’t deliver on.”
Perhaps Obama should have pushed harder with Republican lawmakers, she said.
“At the end of the day, we need to think about which one of the candidates can deliver,” she said.
Still, Latinos are concerned about many of the same things as the general electorate, with the economy atop the list.
Said one CNN commenter, Malty17: "Obama is promising the world to everyone … . Romney 2012 if Latinos are serious about job growth."
What did you think of Obama's remarks on Univision? Let us know.
Hmm? Borderline stereotyping by CNN or could it be the 26% that are not supporters are already citizens. It's tricky. :) If I were Obama I would focus on registered voter opinion.
Thath's purely humility per excellence. God bless somebody!
We have to understand our President is not a dictator if you want him to get things done he need us to put in a congress & senate that will approve his policy's You cannot ask the President to hit a home run and you not give him a bat. One man alone cannot get this done he needs all of us to help him give him the backing he needs in congress and the senate and you will see how great this President can truly be he will get America back on it feet and going strong once again.
DITTO!!!!!! Finally someone responds with common sense and a fair mindset. You would have to be blind and deaf or just plain mean spirited not to truly know what the president has tried to accomplish for the good of the country yet he has been thwoarted on almost every attempt. Have you thought about this – The healthcare bill was passed only after they had adjusted it enough to hopefully beat him to death with it as a failure for Americans! I am proud to see that the results they were counting on (Poor costly care) is not materializing. People are benefitting from the legislation. I do not agree with every decision that has been made, but I am intelligent enough to understand that the damage was immense prior to him taking office, and he is fighting against insurmountable odds. Frankly I think is doing a better job than most truthfully expected, and will continue with this upward progess in the next term. Give Him The Chance to Deliver the Change. He promised Change, It is not fair to place a short timeline on him because you did not get immediate changes. Some things take more time than others. Be Blessed my brothers and sisters.
Well, suchis life. 1 must b loyal 2 his/her president but dis fellow must b an xtraordinary person.
So, now the president of the United States has to cower on CNN to illegal aliens? Obama really wants to get re-elected. Illegals would get further action in Congress if they were more humble in asking for amnesty, rather than demanding it. The president has very limited power in that regard. Salinas and Ramos are both racists in my book and always have been.
Roger, are you really thick enough to believe that the Latinos who STILL support the president DESPITE his failure with immigration reform are illegals in their majority??? What sheltered, out-of-the-way five-family hamlet do you live in?
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