With five days left to go before the next president of the United States is decided, Puerto Rican leaders are hoping to use their influence to mobilize a large voter base that they say has never been more potent or powerful — and, in the case of New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez and former Puerto Rican Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, they’re hoping the vote will be for Hillary Clinton.
Speaking Wednesday at the Achiote Puerto Rican Restaurant in South Orlando, Velazquez opened with the familiar assertion that the election wouldn’t just be decided in Florida — it would be decided right here, in Central Florida and the I-4 corridor. That’s why she thought it important to use the vote to elect Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton is not a stranger to us in Puerto Rico,” she said. “She knows everything about what we’re going through. She is committed to equality, fairness, and justice in Puerto Rico. There is no question in my mind that the people of Puerto Rico know that the person in this election who has the experience, the leadership, and the steady hand needed for governing is Hillary Clinton.”
Velazquez said Clinton was also the prime choice for those who wanted a leader their children could respect and look up to.
Despite his political differences with Velazquez over certain matters of governance in Puerto Rico, McClintock appeared beside her readily, and agreed with her on all points.
“It’s a matter of getting Puerto Ricans to register to go vote,” he said. “Which they are doing in the tens of thousands. Republican Gov. Rick Scott didn’t want to extend the voting time, because he knew every day he did, that would be more Democrats registering, and not as many Republicans, because they don’t have boots on the ground here.”
The election of Donald Trump, he said, would be a national nightmare.
“When you go to the doctor specializing in sleep disorder and tell him you’re having nightmares, his first suggestion will be ‘don’t sleep,’” McClintock said. “To avoid waking up to a national nightmare next Wednesday, you can’t sleep. You have to go and get out the vote.”
Of Trump’s record on Puerto Rico, Velazquez balked, as if to suggest it was the easiest question she’d been asked all day.
“He has a hotel in Puerto Rico, and he’s filed for bankruptcy on it,” she said. “Our fiscal situation right now? Trump is a part of that. He has no economic plan. He hasn’t described how he’ll help Puerto Rico.”
(The linked Fortune article specifies that Trump doesn’t technically own the resort, but that it is branded with his name and the resort was defaulting on payments to Trump.)