(Newsroom America) -- In what has been one of the toughest reelection interviews to date, a panel from Spanish-language network Univision pressed President Barack Obama on his failure to achieve several goals he set during his 2008 campaign, such as true immigration reform, Politico reported Friday.
The presidential forum at the University of Miami began with hard questions about the militant attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, last week, in which four Americans - including Ambassador Christopher Stevens - were killed. Much to the chagrin of Republicans, the administration, under pressure, finally labeled the attack a terrorist act late Thursday.
The panel pressed the president on why security at the embassy was not better, in response to reports that have circulated in the news media in the days following the murder which stated that U.S. officials had been warned days in advance that an attack was coming.
Obama repeated earlier admonitions about not tolerating violence, but also continued discussing the incident in the context that it was in response to an anti-Muslim film trailer posted online months ago.
"This is obviously something that is used as excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts on westerners or Americans, and my number one priority is to keep our diplomats safe and our embassies safe," Obama said.
In addition, Politico reported, Obama did not go as far as his press secretary, Jay Carney, who told reporters on the flight to Miami that the president considers the Benghazi attacks terrorism.
"We're still doing an investigation. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by the extremists to see if they could directly harm U.S. interests," Carney said.
Obama drew the sharpest response from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, for saying he couldn't change the tone in Washington.
"I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside," Obama said, an apparent admission of his failure to accomplish one of his signature goals as stated in his first campaign.
"You can only change it from the outside. That’s how I got elected. And that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done," the president said.
Romney, speaking in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday after making his own appearance at a Univision forum a day earlier, promised, "I can change Washington. I will change Washington. I will get the job done from the inside."
Much of the time during Obama's appearance, however, was spent on the president's inability to pass immigration reform, which Obama attributed to focusing more on the economy and blaming opposition by Republicans in Congress.
Host Jorge Ramos did not accept that answer, however.
"You promised that, and a promise is a promise," he said, according to the Politico report. "And with all due respect, you didn't keep that promise."
Obama responded with an explanation of how the American system of government works.
"There’s the thinking that the president is somebody who is all-powerful and can get everything done," he said. "In our branch, in our system of government, I am the head of the executive branch. I’m not the head of the legislature, I’m not the head of the judiciary. We have to have cooperation from all these sources in order to get something done. So I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn’t get it done, but I did not make a promise that we would get everything done, 100 percent when I was elected as president."
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