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Obama, Romney court seniors and Hispanics

– President Obama cast Mitt Romney on Thursday as an out-of-touch challenger for the White House and an advocate of education cuts that could cause teacher strikes to spread from Chicago to other cities. The Republican countered that the U.S. economy “is bumping along the bottom” under the current administration and he predicted victory in the fall.

Obama spoke at a town hall-style forum in Miami aired by the Spanish-language television network Univision.

He said the lack of immigration reform legislation was his biggest failure as president and “not for a lack of trying or desire.” He said he couldn’t find a single Republican to help work on the legislation. “I’m happy to take responsibility for being naive here,” the president said when pressed to admit he broke his promise.

Obama drew praise from Hispanic groups earlier in the year when he announced a policy shift that will allow some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to avoid deportation.

Romney has been critical of the change but has declined to say whether he would reverse it if he wins the White House.

For his part, Romney seemed eager after more than two days of struggle to leave behind his recent observation that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and believe they are victims and entitled to an array of federal benefits. “My campaign is about the 100 percent in America,” he said firmly.

But Obama made his most extensive comments to date on the subject since the emergence of the video.

“Their problem is not they’re not working hard enough or they don’t want to work or they’re being taxed too little or they just want to loaf around and gather government checks,” the president said.

“Are there people that abuse the system? Yes, both at the bottom and at the top,” he added, including millionaires whom he said pay no income taxes.

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