Terry Goddard, Arizona's attorney general and Democratic nominee for governor, said Wednesday that he feels President Barack Obama has "personally betrayed" him on the issue of immigration reform.
Goddard made the comments during a town hall-style meeting at Ahwatukee Foothills' Pecos Community Center, hosted by the Legislative District 20 Democrats. The event attracted about 35 people.
"I feel personally betrayed. Barack Obama told me personally that this would be one of his priorities," Goddard said of what he feels is Obama's inability to push through legislation that potentially would create a path to legalization for millions of people who are in the country illegally.
He also criticized the state's anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070, saying he doesn't support "expulsions."
"It doesn't do anything against our most pressing problem, which is border crime," Goddard said.
Rather, the state should be going after the drug and human smuggling cartels, he said.
"Find them, prosecute them, and disband them," he said. "We should welcome the workers and we should absolutely keep out the criminals."
Much of his speech was aimed at his Republican opponent, Gov. Jan Brewer. Goddard said she has failed to bring jobs to Arizona, calling the unemployment rate an "economic emergency."
"It needs to be the primary occupation of the next governor," he said. "Anything the Legislature brings to my desk that doesn't create jobs will be vetoed."
Brewer is sacrificing public education to balance the state's budget, Goddard said. The state has systematically withdrawn from its investment in neighborhood schools, he said.
"Our economy depends on the quality of our workforce," Goddard said. "The high school dropout who knocks on the door at night with a gun is the person you didn't educate."
Asked why he did not join with other states' attorneys general in a lawsuit against the controversial national health care reform package passed earlier this year, Goddard said he doesn't believe there is legal justification to challenge the law.
"I didn't think it stood the test of being a valid legal challenge that would stand up in court," he said. "It was an effort by some to extend the debate that had just finished in Congress. I don't believe the court is the place to extend that debate. I didn't think the state of Arizona should spend even $1 arguing for or against that case."
Goddard said that although he lags behind Brewer in recent opinion polls, the race is tighter than it appears.
"I'm still behind, but we're scrapping back," he said. "I'm excited about how this is closing."