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.
«I’m flattered,» says Mr. Fortuño when a reporter pitches the vice presidency to him. «But what I’ve done in Puerto Rico hasn’t been about my own re-election or advancement. It been about doing what I think is right.»
Spend any time with Mr. Fortuño, and you will learn that high on his list of doing what’s right is ensuring government lives within its means. When he was elected governor in 2008, one out of three Puerto Ricans were working for the government. When he was sworn in, there wasn’t enough money to meet the payroll. In response, Mr. Fortuño cut spending and 20,000 government workers, provoking angry protests.
The governor stood his ground. Earlier this year, he signed a bill slashing individual and corporate taxes—and he says there’s much more to do. For example, because Puerto Rico is not connected to the U.S. electric grid, it gets 68% of its electricity from oil (against about 1% for the U.S.), making its economy especially vulnerable to high oil prices. Just last week, Mr. Fortuño won a huge victory when the Army Corps of Engineers issued a favorable preliminary ruling on a natural-gas pipeline that would run 92 miles from southern Puerto Rico toward San Juan.
As a student at Georgetown, Mr. Fortuño subscribed to the conservative magazine «National Review.» In 1980, he was so inspired by Ronald Reagan’s message that he volunteered to stuff envelopes for the Gipper’s presidential run. Twenty-five years later, he returned to Washington as a Republican representing Puerto Rico in Congress.
Yet as historic as he may be for Puerto Rico, Mr. Fortuño offers even greater possibilities for the Republican Party. Ever since JFK’s 1961 speech about transforming the Western hemisphere, just about every U.S. president has spoken of paying more attention to our own backyard. In that enterprise, few vice presidents would come with Mr. Fortuño’s experience in the region—or the ability to speak about free markets in a way that resonates with our neighbors to the south.
For his part Mr. Fortuño notes he’s only one of many Latino Republicans in public life today. He points to Florida’s Sen. Rubio, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as just a few of the rising stars. Latino voters, he says, are hard working and patriotic, noting that Puerto Ricans serve in greatly disproportionate numbers in the U.S. military.
«We Republicans don’t have to run away from our principles,» he says, «but we don’t have to sound anti-Hispanic either.» By that he means talk about immigration should be focused on fixing the legal system—not complaining about those who come seeking opportunity.
Of course, a Fortuño vice presidential nomination is not without its possible downsides. For all the governor’s reforms, Puerto Rico’s economy continues to struggle. (Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher also had some grim years before their own economies picked up.) The murder rate is approaching record levels, largely because a crackdown on America’s southern border is pushing much of the deadly drug and weapons trade through the Caribbean.
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.
In a 2012 contest where the big question is the proper size and reach of government, Mr. Fortuño would more than hold his own. Still, when asked point-blank about whether he’d accept a vice-presidential nod, Mr. Fortuño talks about any number of things: the attraction of an opportunity-driven society, the mistake of equating Latinos with Big Government, the aspirations that all Americans share.
But he doesn’t say «No.»
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It’s a crisp autumn morning in the Bronx, and you can cut the anticipation with a knife. When Newt Gingrich scheduled this event in a poor, Hispanic neighborhood, everybody assumed it was just a nice photo-op leading into the convention. Then word came last night that Gingrich would be announcing his choice for vice president here, a few days earlier than expected. Given the odd location in a deep-blue Latino area, every media outlet got the hint — it was going to be Marco Rubio.
After a rousing introduction from Queens congressman Bob Turner, Gingrich takes the stage to thunderous applause, his white hair billowing in the light breeze. “It’s great to be here in the Bronx today,” he begins. “Callista and I have always loved the vibrancy and diversity of New York, and it’s really an honor to be sharing this great moment with this great city. As you know, I’ve spent the last several months looking for the best person to stand by my side in the battle for America, and I have found him.” The crowd goes wild. “The person I’m about to introduce to you knows better than anyone that big-government socialism is not the answer. As a governor, he unleashed the forces of the market by slashing 17,000 bureaucrats, cutting individual income taxes by 50%, cutting corporate taxes by 30% and cutting his own salary by 10%. He accomplished all of this in one of the most liberal places in the nation, and in addition to being a great governor, he’s also a devoted husband and a father of three. There is no better person to help me in this fight, and I cannot wait to get to work with him. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the next vice president of these United States, Governor Luis Fortuño of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico!”
At first blush, this sounds a bit crazy, but it’s become a serious object of speculation within the conservative intelligentsia — not unlike the buzz around a certain Alaskan in late 2007. William McGurn had a column on the subject in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, and similar sentiments have been uttered by George Will as far back as last July. You can find plenty of glowing interviews with Fortuño by everybody from John Stossel to Newt Gingrich himself. His achievements in cutting government make Scott Walker look Marxist by comparison, and then after you’ve finished raving about his record, you realize that he just happens to be Hispanic.
I love Marco Rubio and the other potential candidates, but most of the names floating around are fresh faces without a lot of experience. Fortuño, on the other hand, brings almost a full term of executive experience as governor — and four years as Puerto Rico’s non-voting congressman before that. The fact that he’s being mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick even though he’s from Puerto Rico is a testament to how successful he’s been in those offices and shows that he would be up to a national-level job.
Would the experience of being Puerto Rico’s governor translate well to the mainland? I don’t see why not. If it were a state, Puerto Rico would rank a respectable 29th in terms of population, just ahead of Oklahoma, and would carry seven votes in the Electoral College. Puerto Rico also has a big crime problem and a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the U.S., so the Puerto Rican governorship is not exactly a low-stress position. In fact, given the massive protests Fortuño weathered in response to his deep cuts to the territory’s government workforce, he may be the most battle-tested governor in the country, and he did it all with unflappable grace.
That’s not to say there are no downsides to a Fortuño nomination. For one, he faces an uphill battle for re-election next year, and while he is steadily clawing his way back into the race, at one point he trailed by more than 20% in the polls. There are also questions to be answered on everything from the life issue to illegal immigration, and there’s the calculation of whether the country would accept a territorial politician who has traditionally waged his campaigns in Spanish rather than English. Someone like Mitt Romney would be hesitant to take those kinds of risks, but it’s exactly the type of flashy move one would expect from Newt Gingrich.
There’s good reason to believe that Gingrich will actually consider it. It’s not hard to find video of Gingrich lavishing praise on Fortuño in an interview for his Hispanic news website “The Americano,” and he’s mentioned both Rubio and Allen West as potential VPs, so he’s clearly interested in having a minority voice on the ticket. A Fortuño candidacy may be a wild idea, but with Gingrich, it’s probably far closer to becoming a reality than many people are willing to admit.
Adam Brickley was the founder of the website “Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President.” He has contributed to Race42012.com, The Weekly Standard’s blog and Conservatives4Palin.com. His personal blog is AdamBrickley.net.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/07/fortuno-for-vp-a-very-real-possibility/#ixzz1g0KbkJ6U
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/07/fortuno-for-vp-a-very-real-possibility/#ixzz1g0K4MF7C
No creo que fortuño acepte ser companero de papeleta de un ultra conservador como gringich. Fortuno gana comodo aca y esta interesado en dejar la isla en la mejor situacion economica posible.
Fortuno seria perfecto si estuviera en un estado como Fla. No se trata de su potencial. Se trata de lo que puede aportar al ticket electoralmente y eso lamentablemente es nada. No tiene delegados que ofrecer en una eleccion general y el poo…l republicano este ano se ve muy debil. Ellos saben que va a ser una eleccion muy cerrada y si Gingrich es el nominado o el mismo Romney buscaran un VP de un estado o un area que le pueda restar delegados a Obama. Fortuno no les puede dar eso y digase lo que se diga todavia hay muchos mas hispanos y negros que tiltean al lado democrata mas que al republicano. Capacidad para hacer el trabajo no es un issue. Si George W. fue presidente, cualquiera puede serlo. Pero recuerden, money talks y aqui eso se traduce a ‘delegados’. El que pueda proveer esos sera el VP candidate. Fortuno knows this y por eso saco su nombre de consideracion.
DE VERDAD QUE YA ESTOY HARTA DE ESTAR ESCUCHANDO QUE SI LOS ROSELLISTAS Y LOS FORTUNISTAS. VOY A DECIRLES Q ANTES DE CAMBIAR DE CANDIDATO, ME ARRASTRABA POR ROSELLO, TRABAJE IGUAL O MAS QUE LO QUE TRABAJE PARA FORTUNO, TODOS FUIMOS ROSELLISTAS Y LO SEREMOS SIEMPRE PORQUE FUE UN GRAN GOBERNADOR HASTA QUE SE DIO CUENTA LO QUE ESTABA PASANDO A SU ALREDEDOR CON SUS ASESORES Y SECRETARIOS Y SE HASTIO…. LAS ELECCIONES EN DONDE ROSELLO FUE NUESTRO CANDIDATO, NO LAS PERDIMOS POR LOS PIVAZOS. LA PERDIMOS PORQUE LOS PNPS NO SABEMOS SANAR HERIDAS, PORQUE CADA CUAL QUIERE ESTAR MEJOR QUE EL OTRO, PORQUE SOMOS RENCOROSOS Y NO SABEMOS CAPITALIZAR LOS ERRORES DE LOS OPUESTOS. PERDIMOS LAS ELECCIONES PORQUE MUCHOS PNPS ENOJADOS CON ROSELLO NO FUERON A VOTAR, SE QUEDARON EN SUS CASAS Y QUIEN TENIA QUE VELAR PORQUE EN LOS COLEGIOS HUBIESEN FUNCIONARIOS NO HIZO SU TRABAJO COMO TENIA QUE SER. FUERON MUCHOS MAS DE 3,000 VOTOS LOS QUE PERDIMOS PORQUE SI TODOS HUBIERAN SALIDO A VOTAR NO GANA ANIBAL. AHORA QUEREMOS CASTIGAR A FORTUNO POR UN DESASTRE QUE NOS DEJARON LOS POPULARES Y CREEMOS QUE EN 4 ANOS SE ARREGLARIAN 8 ANOS DE DESASTRE. SILA VOTO EMPLEADOS 17,000 Y NADIE DIJO NADA, ANIBAL LOS RECOGIO SIN HABER DINERO Y NADIE DIJO NADA. POR FAVOR SI ERES ESTADISTA DE VERDAD, DEJA LA INMADUREZ Y PERMITE QUE TU ODIO NO TE CIEGUE PORQUE NO TE DIERON LO QUE TU QUERIAS PORQUE NO LO HABIA, NO PORQUE EL GOBIERNO ESTE ROBANDOSE E DINERO. MADURA YA, APRENDE A SANAR HERIDAS PARA QUE NO SIGAS LLORANDO Y DEJANDO PASAR LA OPORTUNIDAD QUE TENEMOS EL PROXIMO ANO DE DAR 4 ANOS MAS A FORTUNO, PARA QUE VEAMOS EL FRUTO QUE RECOGEREMOS. ANALIZA, PIENSA Y SAL A VOTAR PORQUE ESTAS ELECCIONES LAS GANA, QUIEN SAQUE A SU ELECTORADO A VOTAR. Y DEJEN YA LAS DESUNIONES, QUE FORTUNO PASO A LA PARTE TRASERA DE LA GUAGUA A TODOS LOS QUE DEJARON EL CUERO POR EL, Y MONTO EN PRIMERA FILA A LOS QUE ESTABAN CON ROSELLO Y ESTAS SON LAS CONSECUENCIAS DEL DESCONTENTO QUE ESTAMOS VIVIENDO. NO ES QUE NO SE AYUDARAN, ERA QUE PRIMERO HABIA QUE TRABAJAR CON QUIENES TRABAJARON PARA TRAERLO A LA CANDIDATURA DE GOBERNADOR, QUE GANARA Y NOS DEJARA EN LA PARTE TRASERA DE LA GUAGUA. ASI QUE DEJEN DE ESTAR SONANDO CON TIEMPOS PASADOS Y MIREMOS HACIA EL FUTURO, SI ERES ESTADISTA, SAL A VOTAR Y LLEVA A TODOS EN TU FAMILIA A VOTAR, SI OFENDO A ALGUIEN PIDO MIS DISCULPAS, PERO ESTO ES LA REALIDAD NUESTRA. OLVIDA TUS INTERESES PERSONALES PARA QUE ESTA ISLA PUEDA ADELANTAR LA ESTADIDAD DE VERDAD Y NO DE ENSUENOS.