President Barack Obama will visit Puerto Rico this month, the first official visit by a president since John F. Kennedy went to the island almost a half-century ago.
An administration official confirmed to Roll Call that Obama will visit on June 14 “to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit to the island.”
It’s a trip filled with historical — and political — resonance. Though people living on the island of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, they cannot vote in presidential election. But there are a lot of Americans of Puerto Rican descent who can — and will — vote in 2012.
Of the 6.6 million Latinos estimated to have voted in the 2010 elections, about 1 million of them were of Puerto Rican origin. According to 2010 census data, there are now 4.6 million people of Puerto Rican descent in the United States, including 848,000 in the key battleground state of Florida.
In 2008, Obama beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the Sunshine State by only 236,000 votes.
Kennedy visited Puerto Rico in December 1961 and, excluding short, unofficial visits by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford, no president has traveled to the island since, according to a Facebook post by the secretary of state of Puerto Rico.
The administration official said an official announcement on the trip with more details is forthcoming.