By I-Hsien Sherwood | i.sherwood@latinospost.com (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Oct 25, 2012 12:19 PM EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) kisses first lady Michelle Obama at the end of the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)

First Lady Michelle Obama has finally appeared in her first campaign ad, a Spanish-language spot with talk show host Cristina Saralegui.

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In the ad, titled "El Voto Es Critíco," Saralegui asked the first lady, "¿Por qué es tan importante que los latinos voten en estas elecciones?"

"Why is it so important for Latinos to vote in this election?"

Obama responds in English, with Spanish subtitles.

"So much is at stake. Comprehensive immigration reform. Making sure that health care is not repealed. Education -- making sure that every young person in this country has access to good schools. I could go on and on and on, but that's why the vote is critical," says the first lady.

President Obama already leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney among Latino voters by nearly 50 percent.

But this election will come down to extremely close votes in several swing states, and many pf them have large Latino populations.

Obama leads in Nevada by a slim margin, largely because of high Latino support. He is also polling even with Romney in Colorado, a result that wouldn't be possible without the substantial Hispanic population in that state.

The largest prize might be Florida, a notoriously fickle and important swing state. Romney has a slight lead there, due to support from Cuban-Americans and the endorsement of popular Latino Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced Romney at the Republican National Convention in August.

The purpose of the ad is to increase Latino turnout, rather than change minds. While Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country, they are also the youngest, with half of U.S. Latino under the age of 18.

Latinos also have very low voter turnout compared to their share of the population. But 50,000 Latinos become eligible to vote nationwide every month, so their clout is growing.

This is a problem for the Republican Party, no matter which candidate wins this election. Romney is polling at around 20 percent support among Latinos, far less than the 31 percent of the Hispanic vote won by John McCain in 2008.

That was still less than the 40 percent of Latinos won by George W. Bush in 2004.

Much of Romney's difficulties stem from his opposition to the DREAM Act, a bill supported by Obama that would create a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.

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