By Ed O’Keefe

The Obama campaign launched new Spanish-language advertising today, shifting from immigration, its recent topic of choice, to health care and taxes, and intensifying its bid to win Latino voters in the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

A new television ad will air in the “big four” Latino states of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida. The new radio spot will air in those states and also, in a first for an Obama Spanish radio commercial, in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — a significant expansion of the campaign’s Latino voter strategy following months of outreach in those states.

“On taxes, who’s on your side?” asks the “Impeustos” TV ad. “John McCain pledges hundreds of billions in corporate tax breaks. Billions for oil companies. But for 100 million households — nothing. And McCain’s health plan will tax benefits for the first time ever. Barack Obama. No tax hikes on any families earning less than a quarter million dollars.”

The radio spot asserts: “The tax credit McCain promises will go straight to the pockets of insurance companies. These are the facts about his plan that John McCain and the Republicans want to hide from the public. But, with Barack Obama, taxes will be cut for 95 percent of the county’s working families. Period. Not one penny more of taxes for any family earning less than a quarter million dollars.”

The radio ad will air in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The campaign has aired similar health care and tax ads in English recently, arguing that McCain’s tax and health care plans will not benefit middle class families.

While the importance of the Latino vote is obvious in Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, Latinos have been less of an electoral force in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“In the home stretch, as things get tighter in places like Indiana, the Hispanic community will play a key role and could actually tip the election if the race is decided by a couple of percentage points,” explained Obama campaign spokesman Federico de Jesus. “While they don’t have the large percentage like Nevada or Colorado, they could help tip the results in our favor.”

That’s why the Obama campaign and DNC plan to spend at least $20 million on Latino voter recruitment, registration, staffing and advertising through Election Day. The Obama campaign hired veteran Latino activists to work in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida and has held several bilingual or Spanish-only Camp Obama training sessions for staffers and volunteers. The decision to start advertising beyond the “big four” demonstrates that registration and recruitment efforts have worked and the campaign feels advertising could help seal the deal, said de Jesus.

“I’ve got any resource and every resource I’ve needed to get the job done,” said Obama Latino vote director Temo Figueroa, whose job it is to attract the small but potentially significant pockets of Latino voters in places like Gary, Indiana, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. Figueroa has helped organize several Latino-themed rallies with Latino politicians and celebrities in non-“big four” states: Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) hosted a Latino voter event in Wisconsin, Rosie Perez went to Ohio and George Lopez hosted an event in Northern Virginia last Saturday.

Up until now, Spanish-language advertising by the Obama and McCain campaigns has centered on which candidate has an immigration record more favorable to Latino voters.

The Obama campaign expects to keeps its focus on the economy going forward.

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