RNC, American Crossroads Target Hispanic Voters in Battleground States

Jul 20, 2011 11:52am

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:  Two national Republican groups have launched a summertime Spanish-language advertising blitz to court Hispanic voters in key presidential battleground states. 

The Republican National Committee and independent pro-Republican group American Crossroads are simultaneously airing ads in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, slamming President Obama on the economy. 

The RNC ad, which hits the president on unemployment, taxes, federal debt and deficit, will air on Hispanic radio in the three states, according to a committee statement.  It’s expected to run concurrently with a small English-language TV buy in select media markets highlighting a similar message.

American Crossroads, a group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, says it will spend more than $158,000 this week to air a Spanish-language TV ad in the same states, as well as Florida, Texas, and Washington, D.C.  The ad is part of a $20 million campaign, blasting Obama on the deficit and debt.

 “The RNC is ready to take the fight to the states where President Obama’s economic policies are stifling job creation and putting recovery on hold,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement about the committee’s ad. 

In 2004, George W. Bush narrowly won Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada –- three states with significant Hispanic electorates. He carried 40 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.   

But in 2008, Obama turned those states blue, and won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide.

Republicans are hoping to leverage the lagging U.S. economy in 2012 to woo back some Hispanic swing voters.  They’ll also rely on a newly elected crop of Hispanic Republicans, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.  

“We have a battle on our hands,” a top New Mexico Democrat said.  “We have a new Republican, Hispanic governor [Susanna Martinez] who’s going to spend as much as she can to make sure Obama can’t get re-elected.” 

Martinez picked off 15 percent more of the Hispanic vote in 2010 in New Mexico than is typically received by Republican candidates in many statewide races.  

“We’re recruiting as many Hispanics to run for local positions as we can, get them on the ballot, and hopefully drive turnout back to Democrats in ‘12,” he said.

National Democrats concede the 2012 presidential election will be a tough race, but they remain optimistic given key western state victories in 2010 that they say are indicators of voter sentiment.

In Nevada, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid won a hard-fought re-election campaign against Republican Sharron Angle, winning 68 percent of the Hispanic vote to Angle’s 30 percent, according to exit polls.

And in Colorado, voters elected another Democratic governor — John Hickenlooper — and re-elected Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, both during a national campaign cycle dominated by Republican gains.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the latest round of RNC ads distort Obama's record and highlights Republicans' unwillingness to "work in good faith" with the president.  

“While President Obama looks to find sensible solutions to get our fiscal house in order, the Republican Party and its candidates for president continue to play politics with our economy and are fighting to protect the same budget-busting tax breaks and loopholes for corporate jet owners, oil companies, and hedge fund managers that got us into this current mess," Woodhouse said in a statement, referring to the ongoing debate over a debt and deficit reduction deal.

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