shy away from talking about immigration.
"If we don't talk about it, enough people won't understand where we're coming from," said Mr. Barletta, who was elected on promises to work to reform immigration policy and punish employers who hire workers who are in the country illegally. It can be difficult for candidates to find a message that resonates deeply and broadly with Hispanics because they come from 23 different countries with different priorities. For example, those from Puerto Rico, who make up the largest segment of Pennsylvania's Hispanic community, are American citizens and are less interested in immigration issues than Cuban- and Mexican-Americans.
Puerto Ricans, who already are American citizens, want illegal immigrants out in order to reduce competition for entry-level jobs.
"When we move to the mainland we're competing for the same jobs. We want fairness," said Luis Rodriguez, one of 20 convention delegates from the island territory.
Nevada alternate delegate Carol Del Carlo, whose ancestors came from Spain and Mexico, supports Mr. Romney despite -- not because of -- his platform on immigration. She said it isn't realistic to expect illegal immigrants to self-deport, and she wants amnesty for those already here.
Mrs. Del Carlo supports Mr. Romney because she believes in his economic and job-creation strategies, but she opposes his position on immigration, calling it "totally unrealistic."
"Mitt Romney needs to offer a better solution. People die trying to come to this country. They're not going to volunteer to leave," she said.
A recent executive order from President Barack Obama -- meant to help young people whose parents brought them here illegally -- protects those under 30 who enroll in college or join the military. That is likely to help him with Latino voters in the election.
However, though immigration policy is important to Latino voters, it's not their top priority. Like most, they're worried about jobs.
"It's, 'How am I going to feed my family? How am I going to keep a roof over my head? How am I going to educate my children?' That's the No. 1 issue," Mrs. Korn said.
Although a spring Gallup/USA Today poll showed that only 11 percent of Hispanics identify as Republicans, the GOP shouldn't write them off, Ms. Martinez said. Hispanics are more likely than other voters to split tickets, so a strong Republican candidate can attract support even from those who identify as Democrats.
"Republicans are going to have to have a real strategy to court this community," she said. "Failing to do that and then saying, 'These voters will never vote for me,' doesn't work. You've got to give voters a reason."
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plans to track spending on Spanish-language campaign outreach this election season.
"This election, Latino voters have the power to exert more influence, decide more races and cast more votes than ever before, and there's no doubt that political candidates and committees are fighting to capture that vote," chamber president and CEO Javier Palomarez said.
Historically, he said, candidates have ignored the media platforms Hispanic voters use most, including Spanish-language television, radio, print and online outlets.
"Political candidates and committees know that they need Latino voters in order to win, but they have to back up their words with real action and direct communication in order to mobilize the key Hispanic communities and garner those votes," Mr. Palomarez said.
The Obama campaign is striving for face-to-face interactions at churches, community events and youth football games. Mr. Urdaneta's efforts are focused on Central Pennsylvania, where the goal is for campaign volunteers to interact with each Latino voter at least six times before Election Day.
"We want to make sure we're reaching out to them not just in their language, but in their culture," he said.
That's why campaign volunteers like Marisol Alvarez are organizing block parties in Latino neighborhoods as part of their get-out-the-vote effort.
"We have food, cake, a pinata, and people passing by stopped and we invite them to join us. It's a great way to get new people involved in the campaign and talk to them about issues in a comfortable place.
"It's a great environment for people to talk to their neighbors," said Ms. Alvarez, 48, of Allentown.
But Ms. Alvarez doesn't just organize campaign events. Rather, she incorporates campaigning into her everyday activities.
"When I'm going to the supermarket, the pharmacist, appointments -- everywhere I go -- I talk about the campaign and I always have [voter] registration forms with me," she said.
She also reminds them of a new Pennsylvania law requiring voters to bring photo identification with them to the polls. Because of the language barrier, many Hispanic voters don't know about the requirement and they aren't sure what documentation they need to get IDs.
Political scientists predict that some legal immigrants may not apply for identification cards for fear of being hassled and threatened with deportation if their paperwork isn't in order.
"They might not [want] to stick their neck out and take a chance," said Frederick Lynch, professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College in California. "It's one more barrier for people who don't vote very much."
And it's disproportionately bad for Mr. Obama, who in an NBC/WSJ/Telemundo survey of Latino voters from late June was leading Mr. Romney by 40 points. In a more recent Quinnipiac poll Mr. Obama was leading Mr. Romney among Hispanic voters 59 percent to 30 percent.
"The polling indicates an advantage for Obama, but will the vote?" Mr. Lynch said.
The party momentarily highlighted a Hispanic delegate when officials tapped delegate Joanna M. Cruz of Montgomery County to make a motion from the floor for Mr. Ryan to be nominated as the vice presidential candidate by acclamation, skipping the need for a role call.
The Romney campaign selected her to make the motion, said Robert Gleason, Pennsylvania Republican chairman.
"She's been active with Hispanic organizations, and she is Hispanic herself," he said.
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