Luis Fortuno, governor of Puerto Rico, was in Philadelphia today making his rounds on an endorsement circuit for Pat Toomey. Fortuno, only the second Republican governor of the U.S. territory in sixty years, is seen as a rising star within the party and is seen as harboring potential aspirations stateside.
Gov. Fortuno, in speaking with Battle ‘10 about his decision to campaign for Toomey, outlined his thinking on how to address a worsening fiscal and jobs climate.
“I’ve know Pat Toomey since he was with the Club for Growth,” Fortuno told Battle ‘10, “and I strongly believe that we need Washington leaders that will bring common sense back to our finances.”
“We cannot continue to spend like this is no tomorrow and think that there will no effect on the economy.”
Fortuno hailed Toomey’s experience as a small businessman, saying he “knows the private sector and the public sector,” and how the two can work in harmony to create jobs.
“I reduced the size of [Puerto Rican] government by 20 percent in 18 months. That’s heavy lifting,” an excited Fortuno explained to Battle ‘10. “We closed two thirds of our budget gap, and are well on our way to balance the budget in my first term.”
And further, added Fortuno, “we’re working on tax reform that will lower taxes for every Puerto Rican.”
Fortuno cited his successes reducing the budget in Puerto Rico as an example of how to redress the fiscal crisis in Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.
“We need to contain expenses first, and we need to provide pro-growth policies, to let job creation provide for tax collection rates that otherwise cannot be provided,” said Fortuno. “Additional government programs will not provide the growth we need.”
Shifting to reflect on the philosophy motivating Democrat opponents, Fortuno said, “first, they look at this [economic crisis] in a static way, but it’s exactly the same argument made in the early 1980s, when we cut taxes and saw tremendous growth and increased [tax revenue] collections.”
“Secondly, I believe many of them think government has the answers to our problems.”
“I’m convinced that it’s innovation and creativity and an individuals’ decision to excel that will pull us through, not any government program,” Fortuno told Battle ‘10. “Pat Toomey feels the same way, and that’s why I’m supporting him.”
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, praised Fortuno and characterized his endorsement as significant for Toomey with 25 days remaining until Election Day.
Fortuno’s endorsement is “very helpful,” Norquist told Battle ’10. “There are four million Puerto Ricans living in the United States, quite a number of whom live in Pennsylvania, and Fortuno is a rock star in the Puerto Rican community.”
The backing of Fortuno could improve Toomey’s turnout among Hispanics, Norquist added, emphasizing “this isn’t Arizona, but there are quite a number who are listening to him.”
Norquist told Battle ‘10 Fortuno “has governed as a Reagan Republican” on the island, and praised him as “the Chris Christie of Puerto Rico.”