Obama, Romney to address national association of Latino officeholders

Olivier Knox

President Barack Obama will address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) at the group's annual conference on Friday, a high-profile pitch to representatives of a fast-growing constituency that will help shape the November election. Obama's remarks will come one week after he announced plans to grant temporary legal status to as many as 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

"We're pleased that the President of the United States will be joining our nation's Latino leadership at this historic event," NALEO President Sylvia Garcia said in a statement forwarded by the White House.

"With the changing demographics and the growing Latino population, this conference is an opportunity for the president to address key elected officials and leaders regarding the Administration's efforts to address the unique issues and challenges facing the Latino community today," Garcia said.

Mitt Romney will speak at the three-day conference, which is taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday. The NALEO gathering is slated to draw about 1,000 public officials from around the country, the organization said.

The conference will also hear from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, his predecessor Jeb Bush, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio—among others.Obama's recent immigration shift has drawn praise from Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organizations. But while the president enjoys a wide lead over Romney among Latinos, experts say he needs to energize that community and convince his supporters to register—and then come out and vote.

"With so much at stake this year, the NALEO membership is eager to hear from the president about his priorities and the actions his administration has taken on behalf of Hispanics and all Americans," said Juan C. Zapata, NALEO educational fund chairman.