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Posted at 04:28 PM ET, 07/12/2012

Wives and children on board as candidates battle for Hispanic vote

It was a cozy scene on the set of the Internet show, with Michelle Obama trading familial tales with a friendly group of Hispanic women. And who’s that on the couch? Why, if it isn’t Katherine Archuleta, national political director for Obama for America. The Tuesday chat was courtesy of the Web site Mamiverse, “universal empowerment for Latina moms and families,” based in Miami.

The topics discussed on the site include food, health, money, school and style, and the day’s guests didn’t stray far from those themes. But when the most popular member of team Obama trades tales with representatives of the country’s fastest-growing demographic during a tough presidential campaign, it works out rather neatly, wouldn’t you say?

The first lady sympathetically related to “all the deserving kids out there in communities and households who need us fighting for them”; it’s clear the “us” includes her husband, President Obama, and his administration’s policies.

Not to be outdone in the “family takes it to a growing voting base” competition, team Mitt Romney released its eighth television ad in Spanish, with photogenic son – Craig, this time – singing the praises of his father as a family man with strong convictions. In “Los Invito,” or “I Invite You,” Craig Romney says of his dad: “I invite you to get to know him, and listen to his ideas.” The campaign has also established a Spanish-language Web site.

The tough immigration reform stand Mitt Romney took in the primary to outflank right-leaning opponents hasn’t helped him in the Hispanic community. Supporter Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, faulting both sides, said during his recent trip to North Carolina that Republicans sometimes forget the human element in the immigration debate. Romney photo ops with hard-liners such as Kris Kobach, an author of strict immigration restrictions in states such as Arizona, may have sown more mistrust among Hispanics. But polls show that even in states with a growing Hispanic population, the president didn’t get much of a bounce after announcing that his administration would relax enforcement of immigration laws for those brought to the United States as children.

So expect more outreach with a home-style flavor, appeals to traditional values and pictures of multigenerational harmony, a message Democrats and Republicans hope will resonate with Hispanic voters and propel them to the polls.

In their corner, the president and first lady have a grandmother in the White House. Mitt Romney must figure that at the very least, he won’t be facing as tough a crowd as the NAACP.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C., has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter: @mcurtisnc3.

By  |  04:28 PM ET, 07/12/2012

Tags:  mitt romney, barack obama, michelle obama, hispanic, vote, elections

 
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