ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The Romney campaign is set to begin its push in New Mexico with four new offices throughout the state as it races to catch up with the Obama operation, the Republican National Committee announced Thursday.
Rick Wiley, national political director of the Republican National Committee, said that the GOP is launching an aggressive effort this weekend to identify potential voters and recruit New Mexico volunteers, especially bilingual ones. Wiley said the New Mexico efforts are part of a national push Saturday across the country aimed at promoting newly anointed offices.
"We're testing our staff and testing our voter ID operations," said Wiley. "We are slowly ramping up."
The move comes months after as the Obama campaign opened offices throughout the state, including Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Las Vegas. President Obama also has visited the state, and First Lady Michelle Obama recently included New Mexico as part of a campaign swing through western state.
Wiley said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had to wait to win the GOP nod after the primary before opening New Mexico offices and those in other states. "Does (the Obama campaign) have year head start on us? Yes," said Wiley. "But we are getting our operations in place."
He said the Romney camp plans to have an army of bilingual volunteers to reach out to New Mexico's large Hispanic population — an important block in the nation's most Hispanic state. Campaign officials say they also hope to utilize Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and the nation's first elected Latina governor, to reach out to Hispanic independents.
Officials say Romney workers and volunteers will have goals on the number of knocked doors, among other benchmarks.
RNC spokesman Ted Kwong said the campaign is opening up offices in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Roswell and Farmington. He said the campaign will open more in the coming weeks.
New Mexico is one of several Western states that both Republicans and Democrats are focused on winning in November.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.