Politico Trumpets: Obama Returns to the 'Adoring Island' of Puerto Rico

Politico's write-up of Barack Obama's Puerto Rican trip depicted the President as a conquering hero making his long-awaited return to the "adoring island." Carrie Budoff Brown, in her June 14 article headlined: "An Adoring Island Welcomes Obama" painted scenes of jubilation as she wrote Obama was "greeted by thousands of cheering Puerto Ricans," and added: "Much of San Juan appeared to stand still for a few hours, soaking in the brief presidential appearance."  Brown also observed: "Peopled held up signs showing Obama's face superimposed on Superman's body."

After Brown explained the reason for Obama's trip was to both drum up Hispanic support and make good on his 2008 Democratic primary promise to return to Puerto Rico if he won election, she focused on the frivolous as she noted that the President, unlike his last visit, "didn't dance" but "did eat lunch at a local bakery" even detailing Obama "ordered a medianoche sandwich but not a beer."

Much of the article read like a DNC press release with Brown relaying that signs in the crowd proclaimed: "We are proud to be part of history." Brown also a quoted a Puerto Rican retiree who cheered: "There's lots of excitement."

About 16 paragraphs into the story Brown did finally allow one single voice of dourness, that of Lydia Gonzalez who complained: "He was a little light in his commentaries today...It is important for him to get some money, but he is not talking with the people."


The following are the relevant excerpts that appeared in the Wednesday, June 15 print edition of the Politico:

President Barack Obama touched down on this Caribbean island Tuesday for an official visit, the first by a sitting president in 50 years. But 2012 politics were very much the backdrop of the day.

He spent only four hours here, greeted by thousands of cheering Puerto Ricans as he rushed from a rally at the airport to a meeting with Gov. Luis Fortuo, an impromptu lunch at a local restaurant and a campaign fundraiser that was closed to media.

...

Much of San Juan appeared to stand still for a few hours, soaking in the brief presidential appearance.

Signs posted on street lights marked the first official presidential visit in decades, with side-by-side photos of John F. Kennedy and Obama above the dates, "1961" and "2011."

"We are proud to be part of history," the signs read.

People held up signs showing Obama's face superimposed on Superman's body. Others waved posters reading, "Statehood Now."

"There's lots of excitement," said Jose Rodriguez Garrido, 59, a retired resident of San Juan. He said he looked at the trip "selfishly," hoping it would do more to help Puerto Ricans living on the island, where the unemployment rate is 16.4 percent, than on the mainland.

Obama last visited Puerto Rico during the final days of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, a quick trip just before he clinched the nomination from then-rival Hillary Clinton.

Back then, he led a caminata parade through the streets of old San Juan — a staple of island politics — dancing to reggaeton and campaign songs blaring from a music truck. Clinton did the same, only she stayed longer — three days to his 18 hours — boogeying her way through the island with a hint of abandon that comes only when one realizes the fight is lost.

Obama lost the primary to Clinton but vowed he would return one day if he won the White House.

This time, Obama tried to appear a bit more, well, presidential.

He didn't dance, but — in what appeared to be an effort to head off criticism from locals about his brief visit — Obama ate lunch at a local bakery.

"We got to try some food," the president said at the counter, as diners sipping on Heinekens and eating chicken and rice looked on. Reading the menu posted on the wall, he said: "This looks pretty good. What do we got here?"

Obama ordered a medianoche sandwich, but not a beer.

"I can't have beer in front of the press," said Obama, who made a show of drinking a Guinness for the cameras only a few weeks ago in Ireland. "I've got to wait till I get home to have a beer."

Lydia Gonzalez, 60, a resident of nearby Loiza who stopped by the restaurant, said she expected more from the president.

"He was a little light in his commentaries today, since we have many important problems and important things to talk about with a president," Gonzalez said. "People feel this is not an important visit. It is important for him to get some money but he is not talking with the people."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.