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 BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr 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 ClintonDemocrats battle for Hollywood's cash The House Judiciary Committee's fundamental choice Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire 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 GabbardBiden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage 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 SandersWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash 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.