According to the New York Times, Donald Trump’s campaign team is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads against Ron DeSantis, saying he’s “insufficiently conservative, by accusing him of supporting statehood for Puerto Rico.”
There are some surprises in this claim. First, “accusing” someone of supporting statehood is a strange way to put it. We proudly support statehood for Puerto Rico, as most Americans do. People are normally accused of wrongdoing, not of favoring justice and equality.
Second, is rejecting the rights of three million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico “insufficiently conservative”? We don’t think so. As Cesar Conda points out, statehood for Puerto Rico has been part of the Republican platform since 1940, and Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico, is herself a Republican. Statehood has been supported by Republican presidents including Reagan and Bush.
“While Puerto Rico may be seen as a Democratic priority,” says an analysis of a 2022 survey, “Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R) and 18 other House Republicans have supported legislation for statehood. Additionally, many prominent Republicans have publicly supported Puerto Rico statehood, including Senators Marco Rubio [and] Rick Scott and President Donald Trump as well as the Republican Party platform.” The survey, which interviewed Puerto Ricans living in the states, found that 71% of those who had voted for Trump also supported statehood.
Does DeSantis support statehood?
DeSantis cosponsored the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018.
As a legislator for Florida, he had a responsibility to represent the people of his state. With more than one million Puerto Ricans living in Florida and 85% of them favoring statehood, DeSantis clearly had a responsibility to stand up for statehood for Puerto Rico. Considering that two thirds of all Americans favor statehood, it’s hard to see how he could do otherwise.
The New York Times reports that DeSantis recently said, “People are Americans and they should be treated as equal citizens” when asked about Puerto Rico statehood.
Does Trump support statehood?
Donald Trump has made several comments about Puerto Rico, including saying that statehood was off the table as long as the mayor of San Juan was Carmen Yulin Cruz, and that he would support statehood if then-Governor Rossello could deliver two Republican senators. But he only made one official statement:
“There are 3.7 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico. As citizens, they should be entitled to determine for themselves their political status. I am firmly committed to the process where Puerto Ricans might resolve their status according to Constitutional and Congressional protocols. I believe the people of Puerto Rico deserve a process of status self-determination that gives them a fair and unambiguous choice on this matter. As president I will do my part to insure that Congress follows the Constitution. The will of the Puerto Rican people in any status referendum should be considered as Congress follows through on any desired change in status for Puerto Rico, including statehood.”
The photo below shows the document Trump’s staff handed out to journalists at the time.
The Trump ad, according to the New York Times, says, “Liberals have a plan to make Puerto Rico a state, adding two Democrats to the Senate, and Ron DeSantis sided with the liberals’ power play. Ron DeSantis sponsored the bill to make Puerto Rico a state.”
It seems to be a follow-up on Donald Trump Jr.’s September social media post asking why DeSantis had cosponsored the bill.
Do you support statehood?
The majority of Americans — in Puerto Rico and in the states — support equal rights for Puerto Rico through statehood. If you are one of the millions who do, please let your legislators know. There is a lot of misinformation about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico statehood out there, in Washington as well as in the rest of the nation. You can share your story and help your representatives get the accurate understanding that will cause them to choose the right side of history.