WASHINGTON President Barack Obama, whose campaign has focused heavily on courting Hispanic voters ahead of the November 6 election, reached out to another important and sometimes overlooked voting group on Tuesday: Asian Americans.
A recent poll showed the fast-growing Asian American community is largely untapped by presidential candidates even though they are expected to vote in record numbers this fall.
The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, showed that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders identified themselves as Democrats over Republicans by a three-to-one margin.
Obama seemed to know that as he addressed a gala of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies on Tuesday.
"For me, coming here feels a little bit like home," said Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent his childhood there and in Indonesia. "This is a community that helped to make me who I am today. It's a community that helped make America the country that it is today," he added in a short address.
"And I know it can be tempting - given the success that's on display here tonight - for people to buy into the myth of the 'model minority' and glance over the challenges that this community still faces," Obama said.
"There's still economic disparities like higher rates of poverty and obstacles to employment."
Obama's campaign is reaching out to a wide range of minority and ethnic groups as the president battles Republican Mitt Romney, a former governor from Massachusetts, for the White House.
The Lake Research Partners poll showed only about a third of Asian Americans said they had been contacted by their party in the past two years.
A majority of those who identified themselves as independents - usually a prime target of both parties - said they had not heard from the political parties at all.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, the Asian population grew faster than any other major race group in the last decade. Asian Americans make up nearly six percent of the U.S. population.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Deborah Charles; Editing by Sandra Maler)