Obama Campaign Courts Latino Voters With Ads, Outreach

President Obama's re-election campaign is stepping up efforts to mobilize Latino voters - a key Democratic voting bloc - launching it's first Spanish-language TV and radio ads of the 2012 election and a new grassroots organizing group "Latinos for Obama."

The ads, which will air in the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida, present positive looks at Obama's record on economic and education policies that Democrats say have benefited Latino communities.

The spots feature personal testimonials from Latino supporters of Obama, talking about why they are organizing for his re-election.

The campaign says "Latinos for Obama" is the "largest-ever national effort to communicate to Latino voters and organize and mobilize the Latino vote."

"It's no secret that Latinos will be the deciding factor in this election and the outcome will have an impact on the Latino community for years to come," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on a conference call with reporters.

Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008.  Most independent analysts say the Republican nominee will need to get around 40 percent of Latino voters in 2012 to win the election.

"Our victory depends on people spreading the word," Messina said, stressing the importance of voter turnout.

Campaign officials say the new initiative will aggressively expand recruitment of volunteers, voter education and registration and turn out operations for November. Hundreds of grassroots events are planned for the next few weeks, Messina said.

The campaign also plans to deploy high-profile Hispanic Obama surrogates to conduct targeted outreach.  The team includes San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, actress Eva Longoria, and comedian George Lopez.

Republicans have recently touted their efforts to dispatch Hispanic outreach directors to a dozen key battleground states and push an aggressive Spanish-language media campaign in the battle for Latino votes.

Messina said Democrats' efforts would be more effective and sustained than the Republicans'.

"They're naming one person per state from what I read, while we've had people on the ground for years," he added.