Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Tuesday that she endorses President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, saying that he is the candidate who is thinking about the needs of Puerto Ricans at this “difficult” time.
The governor encouraged Puerto Ricans to vote for Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election as she expressed her support for the president’s second term bid during an interview Tuesday.
“I ask all Puerto Ricans who are listening to go vote,” she told Telemundo Puerto Rico. “They have to go to vote, exercise their right to vote and evaluate who has represented being a person who thinks about Puerto Ricans and their needs at the most difficult moment. It is Donald Trump.”
Her announcement came just weeks after an aid package for the island was announced by the White House. The nearly $13 billion package aims to support the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s electrical and education infrastructure following Hurricane Maria, which devastated the territory in September 2017.
The White House said last month that the aid exceeds the total public assistance funding in any single federally-declared disaster other than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the destructive 2005 storms. According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria is the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history behind Katrina and 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.
Both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have been working to woo Hispanic voters. Their support is considered critical in the perennial swing state of Florida, where many Puerto Ricans relocated after Maria.
Puerto Rico was already struggling financially before Maria struck, and filed a form of municipal bankruptcy in 2017 to restructure about $120 billion of debt and obligations. A large portion of its financial distress was linked to the power utility.
Since then, it has weathered more hurricanes, earthquakes, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and political upheaval, as well as increased federal scrutiny into its use of U.S. aid.
Vázquez Garced and Trump were reportedly set to meet at a campaign event in Florida on Oct. 2, before it was canceled due to the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, according to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día.
In a statement Tuesday, the Republican National Committee welcomed news of Vázquez Garced’s endorsement, saying that it is “further proof of the enthusiasm” the president is generating among the Hispanic community.
Biden’s campaign responded by calling her endorsement “a desperate, political stunt to win over Puerto Rican supporters.”
Reuters contributed to this report.