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Dems seek to mobilize Latino vote

/ Source: The Associated Press

Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee are setting aside $20 million to target and mobilize Hispanic voters in the presidential election this fall, the Obama campaign said Tuesday.

The campaign plans to spread the money in all 50 states but will emphasize their efforts in swing states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida, Temo Figueroa, the Latino vote director for the Obama campaign, said at a news conference.

Figueroa said the four states were picked based on their Hispanic electorate, the closeness of the states in previous elections and the operations the campaign has put together in each.

During the last presidential election, Hispanics in key swing states such as these represented anywhere from 8 percent to more than 30 percent of voters, according to exit polls, and their numbers are expected to grow this year.

The campaign said the $20 million will be spent on registering and mobilizing voters, advertisements and online organizing. It also plans to put additional staff in the four states and aims to train about 500 Latino organizers.

Democratic lawmakers at the news conference applauded the effort. Rep. Hilda Solis of California said the Hispanic vote has been referred to historically as the "sleeping giant."

"Well, the giant has woken up and it's being prodded now by the Obama campaign and we're very delighted that that's happening," Solis said.

A recent national survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center, showed that 66 percent of Hispanic registered voters supported Obama, compared to 23 percent for Republican John McCain. The other 11 percent were undecided.