May 28th, 2008
08:02 AM ET

Humble, and with conviction

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/28/art.acevedoandobama.jpg caption="Left to right, Victoria ‘Melo’ Munoz, Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila and Barack Obama during a visit to the central committee of the PDP."]

Leslie Sanchez
360° Contributor and Republican Strategist

Barack Obama's recent campaign swing through Puerto Rico highlighted the types of change he wants to make once he's in the White House. The Democratic presidential candidate's visit was in anticipation of the June 1st primary and the 55 delegates at stake.

Puerto Rico also has eight superdelegates, including Gov. Anibal S. Acevedo Vila who until recently was depending on his Democrat allies in Congress to block the appointment of Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez as U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico. Despite their best efforts, however, Rodriquez-Velez was appointed and, as one her first acts, conducted an investigation of and issued an indictment against Acevedo Vila, charging him with alleged irregularities in his use of campaign funds between 1999 and 2004.

After appearing at the University of Puerto Rico, Obama marched down the streets of Old San Juan to Puerto Rican rhythms chanting for a leader who is "humble and with convictions." He then held closed door meetings with the leadership of Puerto Rico's Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Acevedo Vila, who had endorsed Obama back in February.

The governor has denied all the charges and continues his reelection bid.

With Obama and Acevedo Vila marching hand-in-hand, the momentum is shifting to Sen. Hillary Clinton. Already beloved by Puerto Ricans for her husband's 1998 declaration of a federal state of emergency after Hurricane Georges and her goodwill visit to survey the aftermath, the marriage between the Caribbean governor and the Illinois senator is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the voters. (Here's more on the Clinton-Puerto Rican relationship.)

In a recent poll by El Nuevo Dia Acevedo Vila is 34 points behind his opponent, Republican Luis Fortuno, in the gubernatorial race. It is curious that Obama, the candidate that "understands" and "respects" Puerto Rico, does not live up to his own mantra of post-partisan politics and change.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Jay O from CA

    Leslie you are drilling on Obama because he's reaching out to the Puerto Rican dignitaries. You are also failing to mention Luis Fortuno will not back Obama because he's already throwing his support behind McCain.

    If you wanna drill on someone for associating with a scrupulous politician let's not forget about McCain's eternal love for GWBush.

    May 29, 2008 at 4:42 am |
  2. blair cowden

    I cannot comprehend why, merely because Hillary Clinton can't come to grips w/the fact that she has lost, everyone seems willing to bend over backward to reinterpret the rules, ignore the rules, change the rules – absolutely everything EXCEPT abide by the rules they both agreed to before this whole fiasco began! Hillary seriously needs someone to help her look reality straight in the face. She continues to assert and apparently has everything riding on selling herself as the "best" candidate to run against Sen. McCain – which is ludicrous. Any Democratic candidate will win over John McCain. Get a grip people!

    May 29, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  3. Cynthia

    I wonder what Democrats in the U.S. will say when they learn that Republicans in Puerto Rico (and some Puerto Rican Republicans from the United States who are flying to Puerto Rico to vote in the Democratic primary on Sunday) are supporting Hillary. In a radio program this morning, a New Progressive Legislator sheepishly confessed that "I sympathize with the GOP, but I am voting for Hillary on Sunday!!!

    May 28, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  4. eduardo baez

    Michelle Obama is from the same law firm as Thomas Green, the criminal attorney representing Governor Acevedo-Vila. That would explain the close relationship between them.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    How ironic that Obama associated himself with an allegedly corrupt political ally. That's old politics – what happened to the new politics Obama keeps saying he represents? I don't see any difference in Obama from the rest of the politicians.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  6. Juanito

    Has anyone bother to investigate how the accused Governor of Puerto Rico is using attorney Green, one of the highest paid Puerto Rico lobbyist, as his lead personal defense attorney?
    Green claims he is not billing the governor for his defense. Doing it for free? Sure! Who believes that??
    Green belongs to the same legal/lobbyist office where Borack Obama's wife works.
    Isn't this interesting?

    May 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  7. Felix Betancourt

    We, from the American Territory of PR serve our country with pride and honor as proud Americans- We go to where our commander in chief send us ever since the first world war, thousands of PRs have die, but cannot vote elect him. its that democratic or not

    We need our country to give us a choice to choose between statehood and independence, like the white house task force ihas recommend it. With Obama in the White House chances are it will never happens.

    I think that we McCain or Clinton we stand a chance for better future.

    May 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Obama's from Chicago. Can there be any more corrupt political machine than Chicago? Obama was taught by the best.

    May 28, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Alessandra in Florida

    Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila is his principal supporter in Puerto Rico. Since Obama was persuaded by his Chicago political ally, ultra left wing U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, to base his Puerto Rico campaign on an alliance with Governor Acevedo Vila, the good Governor has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

    The leadership of the Governor’s local political party – the PDP – is made up of local politicians who affiliate with the Democratic Party in nationally, but locally the party is defined by its support for “commonwealth” as espoused in the PDP platform.

    It must therefore be of some concern to Obama as he strolls along with AAV that an important percentage of leaders and voters in the local statehood and independence parties also are affiliated with the national Democratic Party and are voting in its primary, and most of them, including prominent former Governors and the current leadership of the Legislative Assembly, seem to be leaning toward Senator Clinton.

    May 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  10. M. Artillo

    This must be the first time ever that Obama is called "humble", by anyone !!!

    May 28, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  11. Kent, Illinois

    We do not have all the info on this leader from Puerto Rico. Pretty hard to judge someone when here in the US we don't have the whole story. But, it really doesn't matter. Obama continues to pick up Superdelegates and Hillary and Bill's circus to nowhere is almost over.

    May 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  12. Missy Fu

    It;s outrageous that a candidate that wants to be president
    has the nerve to meet with a corrupt politician who as it looks
    will be be found guilty as charged in all 19 counts. A politician
    whise corrupt way of life includes his wife, sisters and mother.
    As they say in Puerto Rico, "Que poca verguenza"!

    May 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  13. rohan

    A fresh start is better than any lame duck.

    May 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  14. Carlos Rodriguez

    I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. The eternal problem of Puerto Rico is the political status. Many of you don't know it, but we are Americans by birth. However, we don't have representation in Congress, don't vote for the president and we DON'T PAY FEDERAL TAXES! For me this is an unworthy situation, unfair for us and at least unfair for the Americans elsewhere because even though we don't pay taxes, we receive federal monies and grants. It's even a matter of civil rights, we as Americans should have the right to elect and consent whoever is governing us. That, is not the case.
    Whenever Senator Obama is inquired about this issue, he evades the questions and start talking pretty. Does he thinks puertorricans are stupid?
    One local political leader(Carlos Romero Barcelo) asked him this question: "Do you think all Americans should have the right to elect their president?"
    Of course, he didn't answer. He started a story about how complicated PR relationship is, an what not. To this answer, CRB replied: "I didn't mentioned Puerto Rico in my question" I may ask all something, do you "Americans", really want a president that doesn't know or refuse to answer if you Americans have the right to elect YOUR president? If i was an American (which I am at least my passport says that) my answer would be NO!

    May 28, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Kim in NY

    I wonder what Barack Obama said about middle America behind these closed doors.... Why is it an issue when McCain has a closed door function but okay when Obama has one?

    May 28, 2008 at 8:52 am |
  16. Cindy

    TOO funny!! So Obama is supporting a corrupt politician huh!? Yeah he is the one for change alright! LOL Obama preaches change but in reality he is the same as the rest of them which makes it worse because he tries to act like he is oh so different. He's like a wolf in sheep's clothing!

    May 28, 2008 at 8:18 am |