Telemundo's Arraras Hints Rubio Doesn't Care About Plight of Puerto Rican Economy

Earlier tonight I noted how Telemundo journalist and CNN debate panelist Maria Celeste Arrarás suggested that Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were out of touch with most Latino Americans and didn't care about expanding the GOP's appeal beyond its base.

Well, towards the close of tonight's debate, Arraras again posed a question which implied that the Florida Republican of Cuban heritage was insensitive to the interests of Puerto Rican voters because of his opposition to allowing the island's government to declare bankruptcy. 

"As you know, Puerto Rico is in the midst of financial collapse, unable to pay its debt of $72-billion," Arrarás prefaced her question to Rubio, adding, "Puerto Rico is asking for bankruptcy protection, which will give Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, which are U.S. citizens, you know that, the tools to restructure the debt that is the same debt other 50 states have."

"You oppose granting Puerto Rico that bankruptcy protection," the Telemundo reporter observed, going on to ask "How do you explain this very strong stance to the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans that vote across the U.S., and particularly in your state of Florida?"

While the policy question is a legitimate one, it was asked, I would argue, in a way to put Rubio on the defensive in terms of ethnic politics regarding the Latino vote. After all, none of the other candidates on stage were asked about Puerto Rico finances – even though the issue is sure to fall on the next president's plate in some form or another.

The relevant transcript is below:

Tell the Truth 2016

 

CNN
Republican Debate
February 25, 2016; 10:42 p.m. Eastern

Maria Celeste Arrarás: I want to talk to you, Senator Rubio, about Puerto Rico. 

As you know, Puerto Rico is in the midst of financial collapse, unable to pay its debt of $72-billion. Puerto Rico is asking for bankruptcy protection, which will give Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, which are U.S. citizens, you know that, the tools to restructure the debt that is the same debt other 50 states have.

You oppose granting Puerto Rico that bankruptcy protection. You say that it is only a last-resort measure. But the government of Puerto Rico has said that bankruptcy is its last resort, that that’s where they are now.

How do you explain this very strong stance to the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans that vote across the U.S., and particularly in your state of Florida. 

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Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.