Romney suggested that the president couldn’t answer during a Univision interview for a failed 2008 campaign promise to overhaul the immigration system during his first year in office. The Fact Checker covered this issue in a previous column.
Obama said on Univision that his administration was preoccupied with resuscitating the economy during his first year in office. We noted that the president was indeed busy with various stimulus and bailout programs, but that most of the heavy legislative lifting was done by the summer of 2009.
The president has blamed Republicans for not working with him to enact immigration reform, but his party held the majority in both chambers of Congress during his first two years, and some Democrats showed a reluctance to work on a bill.
For what it’s worth, news accounts at the time noted that the Obama administration showed little will to push through a deal. Here’s what the New York Times wrote about the matter:
“Aides to Mr. Obama say he does not intend to get out in front of any [immigration] proposal until there is a strong bipartisan commitment to pass it. That stance has the potential to paralyze the process, since lawmakers are looking to him to use his bully pulpit, and high approval ratings, to help them fend off any political backlash among their constituents.”
The Fact Checker concluded that Obama’s failure to overhaul the immigration system during his term “shows that the issue ranked lower on his priority list” than other issues that he did deal with during that time, including
health care, the arms-reduction treaty, repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” and stopping pay discrimination toward women.