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Puerto Rico governor endorses Trump

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced (R) on Tuesday threw her support behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE's bid for a second term and called on Puerto Ricans to cast their votes for him on Election Day.

“I ask all Puerto Ricans who are listening to go vote,” the governor said in an interview on Telemundo. “They have to go to vote, exercise their right to vote and evaluate who has represented being a person who thinks about Puerto Ricans and their needs at the most difficult moment. It is Donald Trump.” 

According to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día, Vázquez Garced was scheduled to appear at a campaign event with Trump in central Florida last Friday, with the governor saying she had been invited to travel on Air Force One to hold a meeting on Puerto Rico. 

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However, the event was canceled after news broke of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

In Tuesday’s interview, when asked about Trump throwing paper towels to a group of Puerto Ricans during a 2017 visit to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Vázquez Garced said voters should not dwell on the image, adding that “nobody is perfect.”

The Republican governor has repeatedly brought attention to her rapport with Trump, suggesting at a February rally that the president would otherwise not provide federal funds to the island territory.

Last month, the Trump administration announced it would provide an additional $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico to assist in infrastructure redevelopment following the 2017 natural disaster.

When asked why it had taken so long to release the aid for Puerto Rico, Trump said it had been in the works for some time and blamed Democrats for the delay. However, the funds had already been allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning the administration could have distributed them at any point in the preceding months.

Separately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year lifted a months-long hold on roughly $8 billion in disaster aid to help the island rebuild.

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The Republican National Committee said in a statement Tuesday that "Vázquez Garced's endorsement is further proof of the enthusiasm" Trump is generating among Hispanics.

The Biden campaign, however, called it "a desperate, political stunt to win over Puerto Rican supporters."

"For the thousands of families who had to leave the island, for all those we've lost, for those who still struggle everyday to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, it is three years too little and too late," Tatiana Matta, Latino adviser to Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll Ivanka Trump raises million in a week for father's campaign On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election MORE's presidential campaign, said in a statement following the endorsement.

The battleground state of Florida is home to about a million former residents of Puerto Rico, with many still having family on the island.

Updated at 5:57 p.m.