The Herd: A Look at The Republican Vice Presidential Candidates. Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at  Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno.

Born: October 31, 1960, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Spouse(s): Luca Vela

Children : Mara Luisa, Luis Roberto, Guillermo

Residence : San Juan, Puerto Rico

Alma mater: Colegio Marista, Georgetown University, Univeristy of Virginia School of Law

Profession: Lawyer

Religion: Roman Catholic `

Political Career :

  • 1993 – Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company
  • 1993 – President, Hotel Development Corporation
  • 1994 – Became Puerto Rico’s first Secretary Puerto Rico Economic Development and Commerce
  • 2004 -Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives which in Puerto Rico has the title, Resident Commissioner and is a four year term
  • 2008 – Elected Governor of Puerto Rico

(Click here for Fortuno’s WH2012 presidential contender page)

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Luis Fortuno’s name is not just one of those names , it is undeniably one of the most likely names to come up in the veepstakes, even if just briefly.

Largely unknown to most Americans, Governor Luis Fortuno has been on White House 2012′s radar for over two years now. Many have mocked such talk, ( you should see the comments on his WH2012 page) , but White House 2012 may very well have the last laugh. Take that from a friend of White House 2012, Adam Brickley. Adam recently told WH12 that although it may sound “off the wall”, consideration of Luis Fortuno for VP is very possible. Who is Adam Brickley? Adam is the man who created the Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President effort in 2008. He began the effort before we knew John McCain was going to be the nominee, well before most Americans heard of Sarah Palin, and long before John McCain even considered her for the job. So Adam has a good sense for these things.

As Governor of Puerto Rico, the first remarkable thing about Luis Fortuno was that he got elected. He is the first Republican to be elected Governor of Puerto Rico since 1969 and only the second one since 1949. The second remarkable thing about Fortuno is the way in which he has handled Puerto Rico’s budget. Between Fortuno’s ability to appeal to those beyond the Republican base, his fiscal conservatism, and his Hispanic ethnicity, he could make for an interesting choice for a Republican Party that must appeal to the rapidly growing Hispanic vote in the United States.

And when it comes to the primary issues facing our nation, limited government, less spending, and controlled federal budgets, Adam Brickley describes Fortuno to White House 2012 by saying “It’s like he’s the love child of Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.”

Fortuno trult is a Reagan Republican whose conservative thinking and record will have plenty of traction among Americans of all persuasions. Fortuno states that Reagan was “clear in what he envisioned, a party that is open to ideas, the free flow of ideas and goods and services”, and he has added that he believes “we have to go back to those principles.

As Governor, Luis Fortuno has been practicing those core Republican principles to tackle a record $3.2 billion deficit. He has cut expenses across the board, cut the size of Puerto Rico’s government and reduced its number of employees, while also instituting salary reductions of 30 percent for himself, department heads and political appointments. All this while implementing policies that include cutting taxes and creating new private-sector jobs in the place of government handouts.  Does this not sound like the opposite of what our nation’s President is doing?  And does this not sound like a model roadmap for our federal government?

At the moment, a G.O.P. ticket with Puerto Rico’s Governor Fortuno on it may seem far fetched, but it’s called history folks, and stranger things have made history and have eventually come to be seen as quite natural.

In conclusion, as for those of you who claim a native citizen of Puerto Rico can’t be eligible to be Vice President or President of the United States, it must be understood that all persons born in Puerto Rico between April 11, 1899, and January 12, 1941, are automatically conferred citizenship as of the date that such law was signed by the President on June 27, 1952. Furthemore, all persons born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, are considered natural-born citizens of the United States.

Pros:

  • Fortuno could help appeal to Hispanic voters better than just about any other Republican in the Party and he could cut in to the Obama-Biden tickets lead among Hispanics in ways so significant that it could cost them several key battleground states
  • The selection of Fortuno as Vice President would have historic value and soften the perception that the G.O.P. is anti-immigration
  • Although Puerto Rico’s economy is by no means quite strong, the mess Fortuno inherited and the measures he took to correct decades of wrongs, helps to starkly contrast the tax and spend policies of the Obama Administration with the Republican philosophy that government is not the solution, it’s the problem, in a way that can define the race in a clearly positive way for Republicans

Cons:

  • It might be viewed as an overly blatant attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters
  • Many voters may be quite uncomfortable with the prospects of what they might perceive as a foreigner being Vice President and a heartbeat away from the presidency
  • Puerto Rico’s high unemployment and struggling economy will provide Democrats with an easy attack line that utilizes the anger of anti-Fortuno factions in Puerto Rico in a very effective way, despite all of Fortuno’s hard and successful work to turn things around there
  • Fortuno’s foreign policy and national security credentials may be questioned endlessly and viewed with skepticism by may voters
  • While Fortuno’s Spanish will help him appeal to Hispanic voters, his heavy accent does not make him the most fluid campaigners that English speaking voters will have ever seen

Assessment:

Selecting Luis Fortuno for Vice President would be one of the boldest moves that mitt Romney could possibly make. It would be a gamble that could yield enormous returns or cost Romney everything and Romney is not a gambling man (despite his desire to bet Rick Perry $10,000 during a debate). So I do not believe that Mitt will go with Fortuno. But it is such a historic and game changing move that seeing Romney pick Fortuno is not out of the question. Is it likely? No. But some of the most unlikely decisions throughout history have produced some of the most beneficial results.

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Recent Key Votes

HR 7321 – Automotive Industry Financing

Legislation (NA)

Dec. 10, 2008 – Requires the President to designate one or more officials (“Car Czars”) to be overseen by the Comptroller General in order to assess auto manufacturers’ recovery …

HR 6867 – Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation

Legislation (NA)

Oct. 3, 2008 – – Allows an individual who has no rights to federal or state regular unemployment compensation, or who has exhausted his or her rights to federal …

HR 1424 – Financial Asset Purchase Authority and Tax Law Amendments

Legislation (NA)

Oct. 3, 2008 – -Establishes the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to allow the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase troubled assets from any financial institution (Div. A, Sec. …

More Key Votes

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Luis Fortuno on The Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

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While In Puerto Rico, President Obama Gets to Meet with Potential 2012 Rival Luis Fortuno

Bookmark and Share    Today President Obama made good on a 2008 campaign promise to visit Puerto Rico as president. For all intents and purposes, it was just another stop on a two day campaign swing that took him to the 2012 battleground states of North Carolina and Florida. His stop in Puerto Rico which followed his attendance at three Miami campaign fundraisers on Monday, made him the first American President to visit the American Territory since J.F.K. in 1961.

La Fortaleza, the Western Hemisphere's oldest Governor's Mansion in continuous use

While President Obama described his visit to Puerto Rico as the fulfillment of a promise, one he made on the campaign trail, it was really designed to boost his chances of re-election among the over 4.6 million Puerto Ricans who live in the continental U.S. and are an important concentrated voting block in Florida, New York, and even Pennsylvania. His final stop in Puerto Rico was at a scheduled Democratic National Committee fundraiser. But the first stop for the President was a visit to La Fortaleza, a palacious Governor’s mansion that sits atop a hill above LaFortaleza Harbor and offers picturesque views of San Juan Bay. La Forteza is the Western Hemisphere’s oldest Governor’s Mansion in continuous use .

There, President Obama met with  Puerto Rico’s talented Republican Governor,  Luis Fortuno, a man who White House 2012 has often been sharply criticized for considering to be a realistic Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. The meeting gives President Obama the chance to meet with a Govenror whi is a Reagan Republican with a strong commitment to fiscal conservatism and anti-Keynesian policies,  and unlike Presidednt Obama, has a record of success on the econmy.

 In 2008 Fortuno became the first Republican to be elected Governor of Puerto Rico since 1969 and only the second one elected since 1949.  Since 2008, Fortuno took a record breaking budget deficit of $3.3 billion—or 44 percent of the state’s revenues, and administered a fiscal stabilization and restructuring plan that successfully reduced the deficit to 11percent of revenues and will be completely gone by 2013. To achieve this, Governor Fortuno did things such as institute salary reductions of 30 percent for himself , as well as department heads and political appointments, cut expenses across the board, and implemented policies that cut taxes and created new private sector jobs in place of government handouts.

Barack Obama has the honor of meeting Puerto Rico's Republican Governor Luis Fortuno

While mismanagement and the erosion of Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation between 2001 and 2007 caused Standard & Poor’s to take 6 negative actions against Puerto Rico that gave it the lowest credit rating level before being rated as “junk” or non-investment grade. But after 22 months in office, Fortuno’s efforts turned the economic outlook of Puerto Rico around so much that its credit went from a negative rating and the brink of bankruptcy to a positive and the first upgrade in the Island nation’s credit in over 28 years.

An S&P report touts three main factors for its upgrade of Puerto Rico’s credit. They are :

  1. The island economy’s strong ties to the U.S. economy;
  2. The support from the GDB (Global Development Bank) “which in our view provides a stabilizing financial and management influence;”
  3. Luis Fortuno’s “commitment to restore fiscal balance and economic growth and the progress made to date, which has required the passage and implementation of what we view as difficult and sometimes politically unpopular measures.”

In other words, while visiting Puerto Rico, President Obama should take a crash course in economic leadership from Puerto Rico’s Republican Governor Luis Fortuno.

That is one reason why Fortuno is seen as a viable vice presidential running mate for any Republican who is nominated for President. Such a consideration of Fortuno is made as politically expedient for Republicans as is President Obama’s campaign trip to the Territory.   The growing Hispanic vote in the United States makes them a voting bloc with increasing electoral influence. For Republicans, the need to make inroads into the Hispanic vote is critical to the Party’s success. As the fastest growing ethnic minority in the nation, over the last decade, Hispanics even accounted for more than 57% of the population growth in the South, the G.O.P.’s strongest region. So for Republicans, a successful, conservative Puerto Rican Governor who has made great strides on the economy, the most important issue confronting voters, earns his name automatic placement on the Republican presidential nominee’s short list.  Back in January, presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty even said as much in an interview with Politico.

Oddly, if Fortuno did actually become the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012, while he is constitutionally eligible for both the presidency and vice presidency, he and his constituents back home in Puerto Rico, will not be eligible to vote for him. But as made evident by President Obama’s campaign trip to the American territory of Puerto Rico, that makes little difference since there are more Puerto Ricans in the United States than there are in Puerto Rico. And they can vote.

In the end, while the selection of Governor Fortuno as a vice presidential runningmate  admittedly has only an outside chance at best, for good reason, the chance is there.  Personally I believe that that there is a better chance for New Mexico Governor Susana   to the vice presidential nod in 2012, but as proven by President Obama’s visit to Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican vote is important and if Luis Fortuno is willing , he is certainly able to be the next Republican Vice President of the United States.

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