Feel-Good Ads Aimed at Latinos ; the Obama Campaign Keeps Its Spanish-Language Message Positive

Article excerpt

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Her Latin American background is clear in her speech as Lynnette Acosta talks about how President Barack Obama's health care plan could help a diabetic neighbor.

"La familia es bien importante para el presidente Obama. Y el sabe que familias que son luchadores a veces lo han perdido todo porque alguien en la familia se enfermo," Acosta says in an Obama campaign ad. The English translation: "Family is very important to President Obama. And he understands that families that are fighters sometimes have lost everything when someone gets sick."

The upbeat ad starring a Florida resident is one of several such spots the Democrat's team is running on Spanish-language stations in pivotal election states, and it contrasts sharply with the hard- hitting commercials in English that the incumbent's campaign is airing against Republican rival Mitt Romney.

With the lighter tone, Obama hopes to shore up what polls indicate is a large lead over Romney among Hispanics. They are the nation's fastest growing minority group, usually a reliable Democratic voting bloc that's causing consternation for Republicans trying to position their party for the future.

Obama is reinforcing his advantage with a sizable Spanish- language TV and radio ad campaign in some of the states expected to be among the most contested in the general election. On this front, he is vastly outspending Romney in a race that could be decided by thin margins in many states.

"It makes sense for Obama to run nice ads in Spanish that only Latinos watch. It's a way of saying, 'We're the candidate and the party that respect you,' " said Marc Campos, a Texas-based Democratic strategist who produces campaign commercials targeting Hispanics. "When they see positive, feel-good ads in their native language it reinforces the notion that this administration is working on their behalf."

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last month found Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters by a margin of 61 percent to 27 percent, respectively. It's a gap so wide that for now at least, Obama's campaign is running positive ads designed to boost confidence in the president among Hispanics, rather than to discredit Romney.

The Obama campaign has spent $1.7 million since mid-April on Spanish-language ads in Florida, Nevada and Colorado, according to SMG-Delta, a media firm that tracks campaign advertising. Obama carried all three states in 2008 against Republican John McCain; all are closely contested this time. …