Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today endorsed ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House—arguing that Ms. Clinton would help the speaker’s native Puerto Rico restructure its crippling debt and would push for immigration reform as president.
Writing in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia just days before Ms. Clinton is scheduled to visit the island, Ms. Mark-Viverito argued the territory—whose residents cannot vote in presidential elections—has a vested interest in seeing the former senator from New York in the Oval Office. She asserted Ms. Clinton would push through legislation that would allow Puerto Rican municipalities to declare bankruptcy, easing the country’s massive $70 billion public debt burden.
“For Puerto Ricans—both on the island and throughout the diaspora—this election the most important in our lifetime. Hillary’s plan has shown she is not just a friend to the island; she will stand up for it,” the speaker, a Puerto Rico native, wrote.
Ms. Mark-Viverito also highlighted Ms. Clinton’s support for programs like Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid. But she also pointed out that several candidates in the Republican field, following the lead of real estate magnate Donald Trump, have indicated their opposition to providing some path to citizenship to the 11million illegal immigrants in the United States, and even suggested deporting them.
“The Republican primary has been ugly. From top to bottom, the Republican field has made criminalization of Latinos and immigrants central to their campaigns,” Ms. Mark-Viverito wrote. “Simply put, the Republican primary has been a terrifying spectacle in madness. Come November 2016, the choice will be clear to Latinos. As President, Hillary will fight for Latino families and push for comprehensive immigration reforms we desperately need.”
None of the proposals for either amnesty or deportation would impact Puerto Ricans, since they are American citizens.
The speaker—whose East Harlem and South Bronx district is home to many Puerto Ricans—ended on a feminist note.
“Let’s send a woman to the White House,” she said.
Ms. Clinton has long been seen as the decisive and dominant front-runner for the Democratic nomination, but recent polls show her advantage over insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders vanishing in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which share the white rural demographics and political eccentricity of Mr. Sanders’ home state of Vermont. Recent weeks have seen increasing rumors that Vice President Joseph Biden will enter the race.
The speaker is the third citywide official to back Ms. Clinton for president, with Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer having announced her endorsement in April. Curiously, both Ms. James and Ms. Mark-Viverito are seen as even further to the left than Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has vowed to withhold his endorsement until the former First Lady unveils a plan for combating income inequality—even though Mr. de Blasio worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration and once managed Ms. Clinton’s campaign for Senate.
Disclosure: Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is publisher of Observer Media.