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Why Obama Is Visiting Puerto Rico

Monday, June 13, 2011

President Obama boards Air Force One on a speaking and fundraising tour that includes a stop in Puerto Rico. (Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Angelo Falcon, President and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy, discussed the significance of President Obama's visit to Puerto Rico and the way changes in Latino demographics will impact the 2012 election.

What Puerto Rico means to Florida

Angelo Falcon noted that it seems like a strange visit for the president to make. Puerto Ricans can vote in presidential primaries, but not in the general election—so why is Obama making a fundraising excursion there, especially when Puerto Rico's governor is more a Tea Party favorite who's been slashing budgets?

The answer lies in ballooning Puerto Rican populations stateside, Falcon said.

Florida is traditionally known as a Republican stronghold. Now there are so many Puerto Ricans in the state, more than 700,000, that it's kind of changed the calculus down there politically. It's more in play for Democrats than ever before, and this trip is a way to appeal to folks in places like Florida because there's been a lot of growth in the Puerto Rican population there.

Pennsylvania is another swing state with a large Puerto Rican population. At this stage in the campaign, there's plenty of value in a visit that looks good to Latino voters.

'He's walking into a lot of issues'

Most Americans have little knowledge of Puerto Rico's problems, much less the complex workings of the Puerto Rican government. Falcon cited the issue of statehood and a pronounced, protracted economic slump that's worse than most on the mainland. How Obama addresses these concerns could have a surprisingly large impact on his reelection effort, said Falcon.

The official unemployment rate is about 16 or 17 percent. It's a major economic crisis, and a White House task force is meeting in Puerto Rico the day after the president leaves to talk about economic issues having to do with Puerto Rico. The president is going to be talking about federal stimulus money that went to Puerto Rico to highlight difference it made.

He's walking into a lot of issues which will resonate with how his presidential campaign develops. People don't vote for President in Puerto Rico, but they do raise money and they send a sizable delegation to the Democratic convention.

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Comments [6]

luis from PUERTO RICO

1. We boricuas are the people of Puerto
Rico and we are proud of our Boricuas
heritage.
2. Why Obamas visit to Puerto Rico is
simple he Got ! millon for his re-election
3. Yes we boricuas are sick of the colony
that the USA has in Puerto Rico.
4. The number of Boricuas that have given
theyer live in all the war the USA .
5. Obama sucks Nerver has there been a
more fu## up administration.
6. IF YOU DONT KNOW ABOUT
BORICUAS DONT COMENT
7. OBAMA COMES TO PUERTO
RICO AND EATS CUBAN FOOD
WHAT AN ASS.
8. HE HAS WON THE DISRESPECT OF
ALL PUERTO RICANS ON THE
MAINLAND AND ON BORINQUEN
9. AS SOON AS THE USA GIVE
FREEDOM TO PUERTO RICO
IT WILL BECOME BORINQUEN
10. FREE BORINQUEN NOW

Jun. 17 2011 10:12 PM
Ernesto

From Wiki: "Puerto Ricans often proudly identify themselves as Boricua (formerly also spelled Boriquén, Borinquén, or Borinqueño), derived from the Taíno word Boriken, to illustrate their recognition of the island's original Taíno heritage." In 40 years of being Puerto Rican I have never heard it used or even considered as an insult by a Latino or non-Latino, however, many island Puerto Ricans do not use the term to describe themselves because they feel it is a NYC thing-they choose simply Puertoriqueno.

The indigenous population of Puerto Rico was composed of Tainos/Arawaks and to a lesser extent Caribs-not boricuas.

Finally, just another FYI, there have been many professional Puerto Rican basketball stars (e.g. Carmelo Anthony)

Jun. 14 2011 01:12 PM
john from office

Brian, Boricua is the name of the native indians that were in PR before the Spanish came. Its use by a non PR person can be seen as an insult. Its use is complicated, it can be an insult or a compliment.

Jun. 13 2011 10:59 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why NOT go to Puerto Rico?

Jun. 13 2011 10:58 AM

Your guest uttered my thoughts exactly. "Why the heck is he going to P.R.?"

Jun. 13 2011 10:56 AM

Your guest uttered my thoughts exactly, "Why the heck is he going to P.R.?"

Jun. 13 2011 10:55 AM

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