MIAMI — President Obama said rival Mitt Romney has not ‘‘gotten around a lot’’ if he thinks that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves victims and entitled to government help. Addressing a large Latino television audience Thursday, the president also said his own ‘‘biggest failure’’ was an inability to win an overhaul of the immigration system.
In suggesting his GOP rival was out of touch, Obama was reacting to secretly taped remarks by Romney in which the Republican declared that the 47 percent of voters who don’t pay income taxes are Obama supporters ‘‘who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.’’
Obama said Americans pay payroll taxes, gas taxes, and state and sales taxes. He noted that those who don’t pay income taxes include workers who don’t make enough money to qualify, older Americans, and students.
‘‘When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot,’’ Obama said during an interview with Spanish language channel Univision.
The forum gave Obama a rebuttal of sorts. Romney spoke Wednesday at the Univision event, where he said his campaign was about ‘‘the 100 percent in America.’’
Obama, who ran on a message of changing the partisan tone in Washington, said he had come to the conclusion that ‘‘you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.’’ He went on to say that what he had accomplished since taking office was due to mobilizing ‘‘the American people to speak out.’’
‘‘So something that I’d really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward,’’ he said.
Romney seized on the remarks to say that Obama had surrendered in the face of a broken Washington.
‘‘He said he can’t change Washington from inside. He can only change it from outside,’’ Romney said in Sarasota, Fla. ‘‘I can change Washington. I will change Washington. We’ll get the job done from the inside — Republicans and Democrats will come together.
“He can’t do it. His slogan was ‘Yes, we can.’ His slogan now is ‘No, I can’t.’ This is time for a new president.’’
The president faced tough questions on why he had not accomplished immigration reform, an important issue for Hispanic voters. Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators, put it bluntly: ‘‘You promised that . . . and with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.’’
Palestinian official critical of Romney on Mideast peace
RAMALLAH, West Bank— Mitt Romney is undermining hopes for peace and democracy in the Middle East, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday in response to remarks to donors by the Republican presidential candidate that Palestinians have ‘‘no interest whatsoever’’ in peace.
Saeb Erekat, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, rejected Romney’s view.
‘‘No one stands to gain more from peace than the Palestinians, and no one stands to lose from the absence of peace like the Palestinians,’’ Erekat told reporters. Those who tolerated Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories, are ‘‘working against democracy and peace,’’ he added.
The Palestinian official called on leaders to ‘‘create hope and opportunities, not despair.’’ In an apparent swipe at Romney, he said, ‘‘anyone who says Arabs are not ready for democracy is a racist.’’
A video with Romney ‘s comments was posted on Tuesday on the website of the magazine Mother Jones. He was asked about the ‘‘Palestinian problem.’’
‘‘The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace,’’ Romney said. ‘‘The pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.’’
Romney made the remarks at a May fund-raiser in Florida.
Pawlenty quits Romney campaign for Wall Street group
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has stepped down as co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to become chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, a major Wall Street lobbying group.
Pawlenty joined the Romney campaign in September 2011 after abandoning his own White House bid, following a poor showing in the Iowa straw poll a month earlier. He was considered a possible running mate for Romney before the Republican nominee tapped US Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Pawlenty will not step into his new role until Nov. 1, but he left the Romney campaign immediately because the Financial Services Roundtable is a bipartisan organization.
The Financial Services Roundtable represents about 100 major banking, insurance, and investment companies that manage a total of $92.7 trillion in assets, according to the group.
Pawlenty left the presidential race last year with $435,000 of debt, but Romney helped to pay it off, making a maximum contribution of $2,500 and bundling a total of $66,000 from his family, staff, and supporters, according to Politico.
Congresswoman faces hearing on ethics allegations
WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee will hold a hearing Friday in the case of Representative Maxine Waters, a senior Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.
The ethics panel is investigating whether Waters tried to steer federal bailout money to Boston-based OneUnited bank, where her husband, Sidney Williams, is a shareholder.
The California lawmaker has maintained she is innocent of any ethical wrongdoing. She argues that she contacted the Treasury Department on behalf of an association of troubled minority owned banks, a group that included OneUnited.
She has contended she had nothing to do with the federal government’s eventual decision to give the bank a $12 million bailout, and US officials involved in the decision backed her up on that point.
Waters contends the committee has denied her the right to properly present her case. The hearing will allow her to do so.
The Ethics Committee in this case would be limited to issuing a public report or admonishing Waters in a letter if it finds that she committed ethical misconduct or simply used poor judgment. That is because the committee has not taken the procedural steps that would allow it to recommend a House vote for the three most serious punishments — a reprimand, censure, or expulsion.