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Obama's Puerto Rico visit key in 2012 win

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Cheering crowds in the steamy tropical heat are expected Tuesday when Barack Obama makes a rare presidential visit.

But that the nearly 4 million U.S. citizens who live on the island can't vote in the general election is not the point. Organizers are hoping the first trip in decades by a president to the U.S. territory will generate good will on the mainland, particularly in Florida, where the fast-growing Hispanic population will be essential to his re-election effort.

Said Andres W. Lopez of the Democratic Central Committee who helped organize the visit: "They [Puerto Ricans] have become the quintessential battleground community in the nation's battleground state."

There are almost a million more Puerto Ricans on the mainland than on the island. They had been concentrated in the Northeast, but the 2010 census shows Florida in second place, with 841,000, mostly in Orlando. -- AP

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