DNC chief promises push for Hispanic votes in conference call

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) promised in a Friday conference call that the Obama campaign would focus on Latinos, a rapidly growing population, in its reelection campaign.

The call was to promote the DNC's first ad of the election cycle, a Spanish-language television ad running in media markets that reach the swing states of Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia.

"This ad buy and the fact that it’s the first one of the campaign season ... sends a very strong signal of just how high a priority this community is to this administration and this president," said Wasserman Schultz. "We know that the Hispanic community has grown across this country and our commitment is to reach voters in every nook and cranny in this country. "

The ad comes on the heels of a series of Spanish-language ads Republican-affiliated Crossroads GPS began airing in many of the same markets this Monday. It touts Obama's economic priorities and attacks Republicans for wanting to "end the Medicare guarantee," a reference to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)'s plan to change Medicare's payment system. 

Noticeably absent in the ad is any reference to immigration reform: The issue was put on the back burner early in the Obama administration, although the president pushed hard in late 2010 to try to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as children.

The Hispanic population of the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years, and some of its fastest growth took place in swing states Florida and Virginia. Hispanics broke 2-to-1 for Obama in 2008, but their population has been hit harder than many others by the economic recession, and Republicans hope to make inroads with them this election. 

Numerous polls have shown that immigration is a less important issue to Hispanic voters than the economy, healthcare and education.