Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson visited Puerto Rico on Sunday and gave unambiguous support to statehood for Puerto Rico. At a rally of roughly 3,500 people, Carson cited the patriotism of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens and said, “You have paid your dues.”
Carson left no possible uncertainty about his position on statehood for Puerto Rico. He referenced the 2012 referendum, in which the voters of Puerto Rico chose statehood.
In a Carson administration, I will leave no stone unturned in my efforts to secure this important step in Puerto Rico’s history – establishing Estado 51.
Carson spoke specifically to the chronic economic difficulties in Puerto Rico, which some have suggested could be a reason not to support statehood:
But the primary focus of Carson’s remarks was on the implications for Puerto Rico of the American commitment to equality and democracy.
Mis hermanos Americanos, my campaign is built around the premise of ‘We the people,’ and through such lens, I view the statehood question in Puerto Rico as settled.
Carson is just the latest Republican to speak out in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico.
- Presidents Reagan, Ford, and George H. W. Bush all favored Puerto Rico’s statehood publicly.
- Then-candidate Ronald Reagan spoke out in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico as early as 1980, in a piece for the Wall Street Journal.
- Reagan reaffirmed this even after he left office in 1989.
- The Republican Party Platform supports statehood for Puerto Rico
- Republican support for Puerto Rico statehood has been consistently seen both before and after the 2012 referendum.
- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has also endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico.
- Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio has stated that Puerto Rico’s “unequal treatment by the federal government must end.” He has proposed that “Puerto Rico should have a federally-sponsored vote on the island with two choices: become a state or not. If a majority of Puerto Ricans votes yes, Congress and the next president should respect their will and do what’s necessary to admit them as the 51st state.”
Puerto Rico’s status was an issue in the last presidential election for many voters; it is clearly even more important now.
And it is equally clear that statehood for Puerto Rico is a bipartisan concern, and should be a concern for all Americans.