Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters

Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated Biden blasts Trump's 'embarrassing' actions heading into G-7 summit Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates MORE has expressed support for protesters in Puerto Rico demonstrating against Ricardo Rosselló (D), the island's embattled governor who has faced calls to resign over a corruption scandal and leaked text messages containing offensive language.

“Governor @RicardoRossello's comments are shameful. Hateful language should be given no safe harbor -- regardless of political title. The people of #PuertoRico will be heard, and they will decide who leads their government,” the 2020 White House hopeful tweeted Saturday.

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, also weighed in on the controversy, tweeting her support for Puerto Rico residents protesting "the corruption and disgraceful behavior of their government."

"Like all Americans, they have the fundamental right—and duty—to hold their leaders to account," she added.

Controversy in the territory first erupted when two former members of Rosselló's administration were arrested by the FBI this month over claims they directed more than $15 million in government contracts to favored businesses.

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The situation was compounded when the Puerto Rican Center for Investigative Journalism released a trove of messages between Rosselló and his closest allies, including at least two Cabinet members, containing misogynistic and homophobic slurs targeting journalists and political rivals.

Rosselló has so far resisted calls to resign, offering a series of apologies as he tries to push through the scandal.

Several other 2020 contenders have weighed in on the growing controversy, with Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE (D-Hawaii) visiting the territory Friday to support protesters. 

“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,” she said. 

Several other White House contenders have expressed support for Puerto Rican protesters, including top-tier contenders Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Andrew Yang: News coverage of Trump a 'microcosm' of issues facing country MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Mass.). Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who made his first campaign trip to the territory this cycle, called on Rosselló to resign Friday.

Updated: 1 p.m.