The Republican candidate lineup for the presidential primaries is still unusually large, and that brings up another reason that candidates are courting Puerto Rico.
The Republican Party requires candidates to gain a majority of delegates in eight States and/or territories. If a candidate doesn’t get the majority of delegates in at least eight, that candidate is disqualified. The larger the number of candidates, the smaller the chances each has of getting a clear victory in eight States.
So a candidate who feels pretty confident of a win in seven states can go after Texas or California for that eighth position…or head for Puerto Rico. The fact that residents of Puerto Rico can’t vote in presidential elections doesn’t matter. The 23 delegates are what matters.
The rule is known as Rule 40, and some say that it may not be in effect by the time the primaries begin, but some candidates are including it in their campaign strategies.
Ted Cruz has been especially lively in his courtship of the territories recently, according to Politico, and Ben Carson is also said to be planning trips to the island.
Interestingly, neither has officially spoken about Puerto Rico. Cruz has a Puerto Rico for Cruz fan page, but Carson has as yet no apparent connection with Puerto Rico. Carson’s website says nothing at all about Puerto Rico.
Will Puerto Rican Republicans embrace these candidates anyway? They’re betting on it.
If Cruz and Carson do begin to court Puerto Ricans in the U.S. territory, they will not be the first Republican candidates to do so. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush visited Puerto Rico in April, at which time he made heartfelt remarks about campaigning for his father on the island and endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico.
Senator Marco Rubio campaigned in Puerto Rico last month and announced policy reforms he would implement for the U.S. territory if he becomes president.