President Barack Obama will speak to Latino leaders at a NALEO conference today. (Photo/AP Images )

President Obama talks to Latino leaders at conference

President Barack Obama will speak to Latino leaders at the National Association of Latino and Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference this afternoon in Florida.  The President’s speech comes a day after rival Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney spoke at the Latino conference, and accused  Obama of taking the Hispanic vote for granted.

Romney’s speech yesterday criticized President Obama on two fronts: the economy, and immigration.

“Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard. While national unemployment is still above 8 percent, Hispanic unemployment is at 11 percent,” said Romney during his speech to NALEO.  “The middle class has been crushed under President Obama.”

On immigration, Romney attacked President Obama’s policy directive allowing undocumented “Dreamers” and young immigrants to apply for temporary work permits and be taken off deportation lists.

“After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One,” said Romney. “I think you deserve better.”

A Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll released today finds the Democratic President has a wide lead over Governor Romney in five key “battleground” states –  Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia.  In Florida, for example, Obama’s lead has widened slightly over the last six months. The poll found Obama leading Romney by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent. In January, Obama led 50 percent to 40 percent.

In Arizona, Obama leads in the poll 74 percent versus 18 percent for Romney. In Colorado, Latinos favored Obama 70 percent to 22 percent, and in Nevada, the poll was Obama at 69 percent to Romney at 20 percent.  In Virginia, Obama lead 59 percent to 28 percent over Romney among Latino registered voters.

The poll found the “enthusiasm” among registered Latino voters went up incrementally as the days followed the President’s announcement that “Dreamers” would be allowed to apply to get work permits and be taken off deportation lists.

“When asked to compare their interest and enthusiasm levels in the 2008 and 2012 election, more people now tell us they more enthusiastic about voting in 2012 than 2008, a shift from our previous polling,” stated the press release on the poll.

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