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Political Notebook

President Obama vows action on immigration policy

 President Obama said in the television interview that he would work on immigration this year but said he can’t get support from Republicans in Congress.
President Obama said in the television interview that he would work on immigration this year but said he can’t get support from Republicans in Congress. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

CARTAGENA, Colombia - In his most specific pledge yet to US Hispanics, President Obama said Saturday he would tackle immigration policy in the first year of a second term.

“This is something I care deeply about,’’ he told Univision. “It’s personal to me.’’

Obama said in the television interview that he would work on immigration this year but said he can’t get support from Republicans in Congress. Obama also tried to paint his Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, as an extremist on immigration, saying that Romney supports laws that would potentially allow for people to be stopped and asked for citizenship papers based on an assumption that they are illegal.

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“So what we need is a change either of Congress or we need Republicans to change their mind, and I think this has to be an important debate during - throughout the country,’’ he said.

Romney aides have said that the former Massachusetts governor supports laws that would require employers to verify the legal status of workers they employ.

“President Obama only talks about immigration reform when he’s seeking votes,’’ said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Hispanics are an increasingly important voting bloc in presidential elections. Obama won a sizable majority of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election, and his campaign is hoping to similar results this November.

Obama spoke to Univision, a network widely watched by Latinos in the United States, while in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.

Cheney speaks at Wyoming Republican convention

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Former Vice President Dick Cheney walked without assistance and spoke for an hour and 15 minutes without seeming to tire in his first engagement since getting a new heart three weeks ago.

Cheney even threw in some political plugs amid much reminiscing before the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Cheyenne on Saturday. He said that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is going to do a “whale of a job,’’ that it has never been more important to defeat a sitting president, and that the GOP should unite behind Romney.

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Obama calls on Romney to disclose past returns

WASHINGTON - President Obama has called on Republican Mitt Romney to release his past tax returns, saying that candidates for office need to be “as transparent as possible.’’

Obama told Univision in an interview at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia that candidates need to disclose their tax records as a way of letting the public know their financial background. It was the first time Obama had made the request personally. His campaign has pressured Romney to release a trove of tax documents going back to the 1990s.

“I think that it’s important for any candidate in public office to be as transparent as possible, to let people know who we are, what we stand for,’’ Obama said in an interview scheduled to air today on Univision’s “Al Punto’’ program.

Romney has released tax returns for 2010 and provided an estimate for 2011 as part of the release of hundreds of pages of tax documents.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Obama was trying to “distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows.’’ She said Romney would “release his full 2011 return when it is filed.’’

Obama has released tax returns for last year, showing that he paid more than $160,000 in federal taxes on nearly $790,000 in income. Obama’s campaign has released tax information going back to 2000.

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Romney earned $21.7 million in 2010 and paid about $3 million in taxes. In 2011, his campaign has estimated he earned about $21 million and will pay more than $3.2 million in taxes. His campaign has said he will file his tax returns before the 2012 election.

US can’t afford tax cuts for the wealthy, president says

WASHINGTON - President Obama said the nation cannot afford to keep giving tax cuts to the wealthiest, “who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them.’’

Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to urge Americans to ask their member of Congress to support the “Buffett Rule,’’ which is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who says he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

The plan would require that people earning at least $1 million annually, whether in salary or from investments, pay at least 30 percent of their incomes in taxes.

The Senate is expected to consider the proposal on Monday.