June 14th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Obama has political reasons for quick trip to Puerto Rico

President Barack Obama made a rare presidential visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, greeting a cheering crowd to start a five-hour trip aimed as much at Puerto Ricans on the mainland as those on the island.

The roughly 4 million residents of the U.S. Caribbean territory are American citizens but can't vote for president, while the almost 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the 50 U.S. states have full voting rights, and Obama needs strong support in 2012 from what traditionally has been a largely Democratic constituency.

In particular, an influx of Puerto Ricans has come in recent years to central Florida, a key swing state in Obama's re-election campaign. Other states with large Puerto Rican communities include New York and Connecticut.

However, high unemployment and crime rates back in Puerto Rico, as well as the continuing debate over possible U.S. statehood or independence for the island, adds uncertainty to Puerto Rican political support.

Obama's trip, the first official presidential visit to Puerto Rico in 50 years, shows "the importance the Hispanic vote has in his re-election campaign," said political analyst Angel Rosa.

Rosa noted that in Florida, Puerto Ricans from the island have boosted the Hispanic population in Orlando and central regions.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Puerto Rico • U.S.
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. banasy

    I have always wondered why P.R. Cannot vote for president; either make it a state already, or give it it's independence.

    As P.R.'s citizens are already American citizens, let them vote.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • chrissie86

      I AGREE!!

      June 15, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Casey Case

    Lee Anthony recalled his sister saying, “she couldn’t believe it was happening, and it felt kind of surreal to her,” he testified. She said she did nothing to stop her child from being taken, he recounted, because “she was scared and she didn’t know what to do.”

    His sister told him from time to time, Gonzalez would contact her through Casey Anthony’s MySpace page and direct her as to what to do and where to go. She went to the locations, she said, in hopes of seeing or retrieving her daughter but was never successful in finding her.

    Casey Anthony’s account as related by Lee Anthony differed markedly from the one she gave authorities after Caylee was reported missing. She maintained to police she dropped the child off at the nanny’s apartment that morning and never saw her again.

    Authorities were never able to find the nanny. They did find a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez, who denied ever meeting Casey Anthony or Caylee and later sued for defamation.

    “Zanny never materialized?” Baez asked Lee Anthony Thursday. “To this day, no,” he replied.

    Lee Anthony also testified Thursday that he was the one searching the Internet on the Anthony family computer July 15 and 16, 2008. A computer examiner testified Wednesday that no searches for Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez were found on the computer until July 16 — dealing a potential blow to Casey Anthony’s claims to authorities that she was frantically searching for her daughter in the month before her disappearance was reported.

    Computer experts testified Wednesday that in March, someone using the desktop computer, located in the home Casey Anthony shared with her parents, searched for terms including “chloroform,” “inhalation,” “how to make chloroform” and “head injury.”

    The searches were found in a portion of the computer’s hard drive that indicated they had been deleted, Detective Sandra Osborne of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office testified Wednesday.

    However, she told jurors, deleted material remains on a computer’s hard drive and can be retrieved until it is overwritten by new data. It had not been overwritten on the Anthonys’ computer, she said, and “a complete Internet history” was obtained.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzzzzzz The Queen Of Snot

    The article didn't say if Puerto Rico is a state. Come on CNN let us know.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    P.R. Is *not* a state. It's a commonwealth.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CSnSC

    Virginia is a commonwealth and I think they can vote

    June 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Butch

    Puerto Yucko

    June 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. G.

    Puerto Rico is not a state or commonwealth, is a colony of the United State, a situation that makes many people from the island, and the mainland ask. why?" If U.S is promoting democracy across the world,fithing for freedom and rigths, why they still have a colony, were U.S. citizen don't have rights, even when some of them like ,wear the uniform to defend the same freedom,the same rights ,.....the same Democracy ............." either we get the same right to vote for our president or get the freedom and democracy to make our own goverment!"

    June 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    It's not a colony, it's a territory. There are very specific rights granted to territories(like Guam), Commonwealths(like the Northern Mariana Islands) and insular posessions, etc. It's complicated. Google it, if you care that much to know the differences.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JLG

    Wow, this article blows me away. With such clear political motivation for the prez to make a trip to PR, one has to wonder whether or not its legal for tax payer dollars to be used so that Obama can bolster his loyalty amongst Puerto Rican voters in the US? Anyone else think that maybe the DNC should be picking up the tab for this one????

    June 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Game James

      No.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Spiro T.Agnew

    The only reason for this trip of Obama's is that Obama himself considers the hispanics to be dumb enough to vote for him and is using this trip for that one purpose. Two years ago, Obama had an excellent chance to get 219 Cuban political prisoners out of Cuba but blithly ignored the offer he got from Raul Castro at that time,proving once and for all that he cares nothing for the hispanic people except to get their vote!!!

    June 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      The above is one of the most sensible posts here yet. Thank you, Spiro.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MIke

    Maybe he's geting tired of Martha's Vineyard for vacations?

    June 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gabriel Gonzalez

    its obvious that Pres. Obama is making the trip for political reasons. it makes sense. I think the political stalemate that is and has been occurring in Puerto Rico will only end when people on the island really look at the reality of Puerto Rico's future. And answer these questions. If statehood was voted as the majority. Do you really think the united states would approve of it? When there is a growing anti-mexican/latino sentiment around the country. Also do u think the U.S. is willing to spend the money it would take to get P.R. up to Federal standards? Also is being an independent country possible? Are people willing to make the sacrifices to make it one?just my thoughts.

    June 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    People of the United States of America and President Obama.
    1st let me say Spiro T. Agnew sounds good for an ex dead VP.
    Next,Mr President.You have a real problem staying in the White House and working on solutions to this countries problems.Now today you just had to take a Campaign Trip to Puerto Rico.Unless the DNC is springing for the cost of this trip the American Taxpayer is footing the millions of dollars it is costing for this trip.The GAO really needs to investigate all of your travel over the last 2.5 years to see if there is a Cost to Benifit Ratio to this country for all your Travel.Puerto Rico needs to be a country seperate from the U.S..There is no Value Added to the U.S.

    June 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Game James

      Let it go. I dislike people who think every thing the POTUS does costs YOU millions. It wasn't a problem for any president before why is it big deal now?

      June 14, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. leeintulsa

    @JLG: He can obviously visit any American possession. He's not there saying 'tell your peeps to vote for me' – don't be a twit.

    I'm still waiting to hear what he did say. Maybe this time next year, puerto rico will be a state.

    This is kinda cool. The whole world plodded along for so, so long. Now everything everywhere is changing. All because we elected a black man. Gobama.

    June 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JLG

      @leeintulusa – did you read the article above? does it not state quite clearly "Obama's trip, the first official presidential visit to Puerto Rico in 50 years, shows "the importance the Hispanic vote has in his re-election campaign,"'? If this was his motivation, then this was a campaign trip and not a "visit (to) any American possession" which no other pres has felt the need to visit in the past 50 years. If this is true, and the DNC is NOT paying for the trip, he is violation of Federal Campaign Finance Law. As for being a "twit" – I welcome debate, I won't stoop to name calling.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RL

    He left with more than 1million for his campaign, in 4 hours........

    June 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
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