Ahead of his scheduled visit to Puerto Rico Friday, Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he opposes granting the American territory the right to grant bankruptcies -- a right that is available for U.S. municipalities -- saying that approving it wouldn’t help solve the island’s financial problems. Rubio’s position puts him at odds with many residents of Puerto Rico, which has been mired by financial issues, the Washington Post reported.
Rubio’s position, announced before he was scheduled to meet with prospective voters in the capital city of San Juan, also puts him at odds with other presidential candidates, including Republican rival and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also has a planned visit to San Juan Friday. Rubio blamed Puerto Rican politicians’ liberal ideology for creating economic trouble and high taxes.
"Allowing Puerto Rican municipalities to reorganize their debts under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code would not solve Puerto Rico’s problems and should only be a measure of last resort considered if Puerto Rico takes significant steps to fix its budget and economic mess,” Rubio wrote in an op-ed, according to Politico.
Rubio has been painted as a politician who can send a strong message to Hispanic voters, but his position to not give the indebted island bankruptcy rights may not sit well with Puerto Rican voters, who many candidates have been trying to appeal to in an attempt to get support from the growing Puerto Rican population in Florida -- historically a swing state. Rubio still has to face off against Bush in the Florida primary.
Rubio’s opposition to granting Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections appears to be an attempt to build more support from fiscal conservatives, whom he needs as donors for his campaign, the Washington Post reported. Rubio has already said he declined to support a proposed bill that would allow for bankruptcy protections on the island and has accused both Clinton and President Barack Obama of supporting a policy that would damage Puerto Rico even more.
— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) September 1, 2015
Puerto Rican residents cannot vote in presidential elections, but they can vote in presidential primaries, the Washington Post reported.