By KASIE HUNT
PHOENIX (AP) - Republican Mitt Romney was telling Hispanic voters Friday that Democratic President Barack Obama's economic policies have hurt them, wooing a constituency critical in the general election. The push comes the same week that President Barack Obama launched an advertising effort to keep these Democratic-leaning voters in his own fold.
The one-two punch underscored the importance the nation's fastest-growing minority group already is playing in the general election, and particularly in swing-voting states that are expected to be competitive right up until Election Day.
Before a scheduled round-table discussion with Hispanic business leaders, Romney's campaign circulated a graphic aimed at highlighting the impact of tough economic conditions on Hispanic families.
"The Obama Administration has brought hard times to Hispanics in America," the graphic says. "Under President Obama, more Hispanics have struggled to find work than at any other time on record."
Obama's campaign, meanwhile, is spending about $145,000 on broadcast advertising aimed at Hispanics this week, according to data from the media tracking firm SMG Delta. The ads are running in Florida, Colorado and Nevada - all critical battleground states in the fall campaign.
Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported Obama in the 2008 election.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was also in Arizona to address state Republican leaders.
Republican officials said he also met privately with Republican National Committee members who supported him during the primary process.
Romney's campaign is beginning to informally coordinate with the RNC as it lays the groundwork for the fall campaign.