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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Puerto Rico a force in Florida voting



SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — You know a presidential primary has turned into a scramble for every last delegate when the candidates start showing up in Puerto Rico.

Politics is a boisterous pastime on this island territory, where campaigns feature festive parades and caravans of cars blaring music. Few places in the world have higher voter turnout.

So you can imagine the excitement over today's Republican primary in Puerto Rico, which in most presidential campaigns earns at best a token visit from a candidate's spouse or kid, but last week had Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum hitting the streets of San Juan.

"Nobody cares about it, nobody's talking about it. It's a very little group in Puerto Rico that's going to vote for those guys,'' scoffed Raymond Frias, a real estate investor in San Juan, who owns property in Hillsborough County.

Puerto Ricans love to talk and debate politics, Wanda Ortiz said, as Atlantic waves crashed just below her Reef Bar and Grill outside San Juan one morning last week. "But that presidential primary doesn't matter at all to the lives of the people here."

On the mainland 1,200 miles away, though, Puerto Rican political perceptions could not be more relevant to the outcome of the presidential election. Why? Florida.

Story here. Photo gallery here.

[Last modified: Sunday, March 18, 2012 4:57pm]


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