WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- Trying to boost typically low Hispanic voter registration and turnout, President Obama's campaign says it's focusing on the voting bloc for the 2012 election.
"Hispanics could very well decide this election," one Obama adviser involved in his re-election campaign told Politico.
Campaign organizers say Obama's attention to the Hispanic segment of the country's growing Latino population is part of a strategy to increase Hispanic voting in crucial swing states, including Florida and North Carolina -- two states the president visits Monday before traveling to Puerto Rico Tuesday, Politico reported.
Besides trying to boost Hispanic turnout in battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, Obama's campaign says it wants to expand the president's reach into states with much smaller but fast-growing Hispanic populations, such as North Carolina and Virginia.
Not since President John F. Kennedy has a U.S. president made an official visit to Puerto Rico.
Officials of the island territory said Obama's visit signals an acknowledgement of the increased clout of Puerto Ricans on the mainland, where their numbers grew by 36 percent during the last decade.
"We don't see it as something that will have a cotton candy effect, that feels good for a while," Andres Lopez, a lawyer in Puerto Rico and a Democratic National Committee member, told Politico. "The trip evinces a larger trend that will sustain itself over the short- and long-run, and that is a recognition of the growing importance of Puerto Ricans on the mainland."