BROOKLYN - President Barack Obama will touch down in Puerto Rico today, the first time a United States leader has officially visited the island in 50 years.
President Obama is expected to land in San Juan before noon and speak at Muniz Air National Guard Base. The trip caps a two-day tour to battlegrounds like North Carolina and Florida. And with his 2012 re-election campaign under way, his eye is placed firmly on the millions of Puerto Ricans now living on the mainland.
The biggest issue he's going to talk about is Puerto Rico's status as a commonwealth. Right now Puerto Ricans advocate statehood, want to stay a U.S. territory to maintain its cultural identity or want independence from the United States and become its own country. In his task force on Puerto Rico's status, Obama states it is ultimately up to the Puerto Rican people to decide their future while it is his job to create a clear path to whatever ending they choose.
Obama is also expected to speak about job growth on the island, which now has about a 16.2 percent unemployment rate compared with 9 percent in the U.S. He's also expected to talk about education, health care and clean energy.