Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were among the high-profile political figures to speak at the annual National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials this week.
Here are five things we learned from their visits:
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The Latino vote has arrived
The event highlighted the importance of the Latino vote in the 2012 election. Both Romney and Obama sought to energize these potential political foot soldiers to return home and motivate their constituents into the voting booth.
“Our members heard the message, they learned more about the candidates. Now they can go back to their communities and make sure they come out and vote,” said Sylvia Garcia, the outgoing president of NALEO.
Boosting the turnout rate is key for the Latino vote to become a more powerful political force in this and future elections.
Obama's new directive preventing the deportation of some young illegal immigrants could form a political shield against criticism that he did not keep his promise to enact immigration reform within his first year in office. With certain similarities to the Dream Act - to which Romney is opposed - the president has subjected his rival to increasing scrutiny from a crowd that wants to know more specifics of the Republican's plan.
“His [Romney’s] message on immigration was a little confusing because it was different from what he’s said in the past and those points were not well-received,” said Luz Urbaez Weinberg, a Republican city commissioner from Aventura, Florida.
The Latino vote is not monolithic
If it was clear that Obama received a much warmer reception, the group received Romney respectfully and proved that it is willing to hear different ideas on how to solve issues important for the Latino community.
Utah state Sen. Ross Romero, a Democrat, underscored the importance of advancing an agenda which favors this constituency.
“Those of us who are in the political arena understand that we can’t get anything done without cooperation from the other side," he said. "So if the Republican ideas are winning the day and are attracting the vote, then the Latinos will go to that candidate.”
Marco Rubio is Latino
Is he Latino enough?, some critics asked.
Critics say the possible Republican vice presidential candidate's Cuban background does not play well in other states, particularly in the west where Mexican-American heritage is more dominant. He has also been criticized for not supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
But the freshman senator from Florida got a warm reception from the audience. Recently, he has been seen as leading the GOP effort to find solutions to illegal immigration, including developing a Republican alternative to the Dream Act.
The crowd applauded, even at times when he criticized the president.
Eat fast when the president is coming
During the luncheon that preceded Obama's speech, the audience was told to eat fast. The Secret Service, they were told, required silverware be removed before he arrived, a standard procedure.
Conference officials say the menu was dictated by this rule, forcing them to serve salads because the use of knives was not allowed.