National Democrats and Barack Obama's campaign rolled out what they're calling an "unprecedented, historic" effort at wooing Hispanic voters across the U.S. The initial pricetag for the voter registration and advertising effort: $20 million.
The effort will focus on swing states with sizeable Hispanic populations, including Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Democrats said it's the earliest and most aggressive effort a Democratic presidential candidate has ever attempted.
"I've never seen this level of commitment, in terms of resource, in terms of staff and this early in a campaign," said Tampa's Frank Sanchez, national chairman of the Obama for America National Hispanic Leadership Council. "Those to me are three indicators of the seriousness with which we're taking the Hispanic/Latino community."
Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY, a onetime Hillary Clinton supporter, noted Obama lost overwhelmingly to Clinton in the Democratic primaries and though polls show him closing the gap, it would "be foolish of any campaign not to truly target that group to bring it in."
He said the outreach effort planned to work "everywhere. We're even going to go to Miami to try to get Latino votes for Barack Obama.
"We will work hard to make sure that Barack is elected," Serrano said. "This is a commitment to the fact that our community can make a difference Nov. 4th and that's where it's targeted."
Ana Navarro, the national co-chair for rival John McCain's Hispanic Advisory Council, however, suggests Serrano may not be the Obama campaign's best ambassador to Miami. He has championed efforts to lift the embargo against Cuba and last week was quoted as critizing the U.S. Treasury Department for enforcing sanctions against travelers to Cuba.
"He's one of the stalwarts fighting against the embargo," Navarro said. "The Cuban American community in Miami by and large finds Jose Serrano's politics quite offensive. It really speaks to a tone deafness in the Obama campaign that they'd send Jose Serrano to Miami."