Popular Spanish-language television personality Cristina Saralegui announced Monday her endorsement of President Barack Obama in his bid for reelection.

"Hispanics could very well decide the next election and I will do everything I can from now until November to ensure that President Obama is reelected; there's simply too much at stake," she said in a statement.

This is the first time that the 64-year-old Saralegui, known as the "Hispanic Oprah," has publicly supported a presidential candidate.

Saralegui, who was born in Cuba, recalled that she came to the United States when she was 12- years-old and said she decided to get involved in these elections to help defend Obama's achievements.

"This is a critical time for our country and for the Hispanic community," she said.

"President Obama, I was very fortunate to live the American dream and I know that only you will make it possible for millions more to do the same," the veteran talk-show host said. "You've had our back, and now, with utmost respect and admiration, I have yours."

The endorsement comes three days after the Obama administration announced a new policy that will effectively prevent the deportation of some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children.

"We're honored to have Cristina be a spokesperson for the campaign, speaking directly to Hispanic voters about the president's accomplishments," Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina said.

The campaign also launched a video in English and Spanish with a message from Cristina to the Hispanic community.

Saralegui is the granddaughter of Spanish entrepreneur Francisco Saralegui, who emigrated to Cuba where he established a publishing empire.

Cristina Saralegui began her career with one of her grandfather's magazines, Vanidades, and later launched her TV program "El Show de Cristina" on Univision in 1989, which had high ratings for years until it was canceled in 2009 in view of its declining popularity.

The show host moved last year to Univision rival Telemundo with her program "Pa'lante con Cristina" (Forward with Cristina), which, however, will not be back on the air next year.

The announcement came at a time when Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, are actively courting the Hispanic vote.

Both Obama and Romney plan to take part this week in the annual conference of the influential National Association of Latino Elected Officials, in Orlando, Florida.

It is estimated that winning the presidency will require at least 40 percent of the Latino vote, which looms as a deciding factor, particularly in swing states like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama leading Romney with 61 percent of voter preference among Hispanics to 27 percent for the upcoming Nov. 6 election. EFE

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