Obama, Romney Battle for Hispanic Votes in Swing States


"Did you know that the rate of unemployment among Hispanic Americans rose last month to 11 percent? And that the people in this country that are poor, living in poverty, one out of three are Hispanic American?" Romney said last week at a Texas campaign stop.

"And among young Hispanic Americans the poverty rate is 30 percent? And Hispanic Americans in... large measure have looked to entrepreneurs and innovators and small business to get going," he said, "but this has been such an... anti-small business, hostile to small business environment that it's been harder for those businesses to open up their doors and to hire more people."

By focusing on the economy, Romney is asking Hispanic swing voters to choose their pocketbooks and social values over immigration-related issues, while underlining Obama's unfulfilled promises.

The Spanish-language version of Romney's first general election TV ad, "Dia Uno," focuses on steps a President Romney would take to boost the economy on his first day in office. It's airing in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio, the Romney campaign said.

Obama and Democrats, meanwhile, are highlighting Romney's past statements on immigration and the alleged negative impact of his economic policies on the middle class, arguing a Romney presidency would be bad for Hispanic families.

"Latinos will not forget that he smears the motives of immigrants who come here for a better life. That he called one of Arizona's immigration laws a model for the nation. That he wants to make immigrants lives so miserable that they self-deport. Or that he destroys young people's hopes by opposing the Dream Act," said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the SEIU, on a conference call with reporters.

"When Latinos hear Romney in his own words, they really know what is going on and what he is saying," he said.

Both candidates are expected to head to Florida later this month to address the National Association of Latino Elected Officials at a conference in Orlando. The event will serve as a backdrop for broader messages to the Hispanic community.

For Obama, the speech fulfills a 2008 promise he made to the group to return as president. It also offers him a chance to tout policies from his first term that have benefitted Latinos. It will be the first time he and Romney will address a major Latino organization back to back.

The president will also return to Florida on June 26 to court Hispanic donors at a splashy Miami Beach fundraiser hosted by singer/songwriter Marc Anthony.

"Latinos are a force that can and will help decide this election. And it's a good thing that we've got so much to say, right?" Anthony says in a new web video for Obama's campaign. "We have jobs, the economy, education. President Obama is on our side on all of them. We just have to make sure that he gets four more years to make more progress. The president has our back."

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report.

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