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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Vice President from Puerto Rico?

Our chapter on citizenship has a "Myths and Misinformation" box noting that many Americans do not know that residents of Puerto Rico are United States citizens. This information is very relevant to William McGurn's article in today's Wall Street Journal:
He's young, dynamic, and well-spoken. As a Republican vice presidential nominee, he could help with Latino voters in 2012.

And he's not Marco Rubio.

His name is Luis Fortuño, and he's part of a rising generation of Republicans pushing pro-growth, small-government agendas. Like many of these men and women, Mr. Fortuño is a governor. What makes him striking is that he's governor of an American territory, Puerto Rico, rather than an American state.
Though there's no constitutional prohibition against Mr. Fortuño's serving as U.S. president or vice president—Puerto Ricans have been American citizens since 1917—perhaps the biggest issue is simply that the governor is not well known here. In our media-driven age, that means he would likely face a ferocious public vetting like the one directed at Sarah Palin when she was announced as John McCain's running mate. In other words, some of the same things that are exciting about a Fortuño VP nomination could make it a distraction.

Then again, the payoff is potentially much higher than the risks. It is no dismissal of Marco Rubio (who has said he's not interested in the VP slot) to observe that, as a Puerto Rican, Mr. Fortuño might enjoy greater appeal among the broad Latino community than a candidate from a traditional GOP constituency such as Cuban-Americans. In short, he might inspire a critical and fast-growing demographic to give the Republican Party another look.