President Obama in a previously off-the-record interview with an Iowa newspaper said he believes a "grand bargain" on the deficit can be reached six months into his second term and that immigration reform can also be approved in 2013.
The Obama administration reversed course Wednesday and allowed the Des Moines Register to release an interview with the president that had previously been off the record. Obama gave the interview as he pursued the influential swing-state paper's endorsement.
"We’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business," Obama said of a deficit-cutting bill.
Obama said "the second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform."
In his comments about immigration, Obama tells the newspaper he will speak candidly, as his remarks were off the record. He then contends that if he wins a second term, the victory will come in large part because Republicans had "alienated" Latino American voters.
"And 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 says in the interview.
The interview's release came after the Register's editor published a blog post early Wednesday morning urging Obama to allow the interview to be published. Rick Green, the Iowa newspaper's editor, wrote that the interview would be "valuable to voters" both in Iowa and around the country.
Some Republicans had criticized Obama for choosing to give an off-the-record interview to the paper, which is deciding whether to endorse Obama or his opponent, Mitt Romney.
Shortly after the blog post was published, the Register announced that Obama campaign officials had authorized the release of the interview.
The interview covers a range of topics, including healthcare, immigration and the economy.
Obama said is "absolutely confident" that Congress will work with him to strike a deficit deal, which he said should include "$2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending."
"We can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction," he said.
"It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant."
In another portion of the interview, Obama says that it will become clear during the next few years that his healthcare reform law, a regular target of Republican criticism, will turn out "not to have been the scary monster that the other side has painted."
Having dealt with healthcare and Wall Street reform — both highly partisan issues — in his first term, Obama said he expected more bipartisan cooperation in a second term.
"Now we're in a position where we can start on some things that really historically have not been ideological," he said. "We can start looking at a serious corporate tax reform agenda that's revenue-neutral but lowers rates and broadens the base — something that both Republicans and Democrats have expressed an interest in."
The Romney campaign said the interview showed how Obama had neglected to make the economy his focus.
“In the face of a struggling economy, President Obama took his eye off the ball, and spent over a year focused on passing Obamacare – a massive government takeover of health care that cuts Medicare for today’s seniors, raises taxes on millions of middle-class families, and impedes job creation,” said Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg, in a statement. “But rather than learn from this mistake, the President would do the same in a second term, implementing even more job-destroying policies that will cost the nation over 700,000 jobs.
“It’s clear why Americans can’t afford four more years like the last four years. As President, Mitt Romney’s top priority will be fixing our nation’s economy by creating 12 million jobs, higher take-home pay for American workers, and a more prosperous future for all Americans,” she said.