Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests

Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests
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White House hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHillary Clinton has said she'd consider 2020 race if she thought she could win: report Biden, Gabbard suffer hits to favorability after debate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump's impeachment plea to Republicans MORE (D-Hawaii) arrived in Puerto Rico Friday as protests rock the territory, making her the first 2020 candidate to visit since demonstrators began marching against the governor.

Gabbard said she went to the island to “show support” for protesters who are calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) over allegations of corruption and leaked text messages circulated among his inner circle containing misogynistic and homophobic slurs.

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“I’m here today to stand with and show support for my fellow Americans in Puerto Rico in their stand against corruption, and against a government that has proven it is of, by and for the rich and powerful, leaving the people behind,” Gabbard said in a press release.

“These protests are about more than offensive language in leaked chats. They’re about more than Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his associates’ elitist attitudes. They’re about rampant corruption within Puerto Rico’s government that pretends to serve the interests of its people but instead exploits them, over and over again for profits and power. It is this blatant corruption that undermines people's faith in our democracy, our country and our values.”

Gabbard also called on the Democratic Party and the other two dozen presidential contenders to call for “this corrupt administration headed by Governor Rossello step down.”

Rosselló has so far resisted calls to resign, instead offering apologies as he tries to govern through the scandal engulfing the island.

The controversy was sparked when two former members of Rosselló's administration were arrested by the FBI earlier this month over allegations they directed more than $15 million in government contracts to favored businesses. 

The Puerto Rican Center for Investigative Journalism released the trove of messages among Rosselló and his closest allies, including at least two Cabinet members, that hammered journalists and political rivals.

Several other White House contenders have expressed support for Puerto Rican protesters, including top-tier contenders Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity Tlaib to join Sanders at campaign rally in Detroit MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity On The Money: Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing finance plan | Dems jump into Trump turf war over student loans | House passes bill targeting anonymous shell companies MORE (D-Mass.). Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian CastroJulian Castro2020 Democrats criticize Trump invoking lynching: 'Stain on this nation's history' Trump 'lynching' comparison draws backlash from lawmakers Warren to protest with striking Chicago teachers MORE, who made his first campaign trip to the territory this cycle, called on Rosselló to resign Friday.