President Obama quipped at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala tonight that his critics deemed Osama on the loose as “the golden age” which he then came and messed up.
The gala at the Washington Convention Center included HUD Secretary Julian Castro — Hillary Clinton’s potential running mate pick who got some “VP!” chants from the crowd.
“This president came into office saying ‘si, se puede,’” Castro said. “…He’s championed the issues important to Latinos like no one who’s sat in the Oval Office before.”
Castro called Obama “the best friend that Latinos have had in the Oval Office.”
Obama began his address by rattling off his standard accomplishment talking points, from the unemployment rate to Obamacare to reversing “a Cold War mentality” with Cuba.
“When I took office, hardworking young people -– Americans in every way but on paper –- lived in constant fear of deportation. Today, more than 680,000 DREAMers live and study and work freely and openly in the country they’ve always called home,” he said. “…And the deferred action policies I announced last year will help millions of mothers and fathers remain in the United States of America with their families –- and although it is taking us longer than we hoped, I know we’re on the right side of the law and we are going to keep fighting to prove it.”
He continued: “More Americans are graduating from college. The deficits are down by two-thirds. The amount of foreign oil we buy is down. Teen pregnancy is down. All of which makes you wonder: Why are some of the folks who are running for my office so down on America?”
Obama lamented that “by most measures, we are better off now than we were seven years ago” never comes up in GOP debates.
“I mean, they have invented this new reality where everything was terrific back in 2008 -– when the unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and DREAMers lived in fear of deportation and we were engaged in two wars, and bin Laden was still at large. That was the golden era, apparently, the good old days,” Obama said to laughter from the audience. “And then I came along and messed it all up.”
He added that “there is nowhere where [Republicans] want to go further backwards than on immigration.”
Obama said the GOP would be better off if the party “got the message” from George W. Bush on immigration reform.
“Leadership is not fanning the flames of intolerance, and then acting all surprised when a fire breaks out. Saying clearly inflammatory things and then saying, well, that’s not what I meant — until you do it again, and again, and again,” he said. “So we’ve got to decide whether or not we, as Americans, are willing to stand up against this kind of bigotry.”
“…When I hear folks talking as if somehow those kids are different from my kids, as if they’re less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow their families are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care, as if somehow back in the day everybody had their papers in order when they came here, but now suddenly nobody has their papers in order, I believe we’re better than that.”