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Latino-vote coup? Puerto Rico Gov. Fortuño likely to endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow, sources say

The Hispanic Republican political world is buzzing with talk that Puerto Rico's governor, Luis Fortuño, has been in talks with Mitt Romney for an endorsement – and sources tell The Miami Herald he could swing his support as early as tomorrow in Orlando.

Romney’s campaign wouldn’t comment.

Friday would be a perfect day for an endorsement for Romney, who’s attending the Hispanic Leadership Network forum tomorrow in Doral before he heads to Orlando – seat of Orange County, which has one of the largest Puerto Rican Republican communities in the state.

More than 21,000 Hispanic Republicans live in the county, about 11 percent of the registered GOP. Nearby Osceola County has more than 8,500 registered Hispanic Republicans – about 21 percent of the GOP. It’s unclear how many are of Puerto Rican descent.

Romney has scheduled a 6:15 p.m. press conference in Orlando. Said one Republican about a potential Fortuño endorsement: “This should happen.”

Said another: “It’s 99.9 percent going to happen.”

**Update Fortuño is coming to Florida tomorrow. He'll host a 2 p.m. tour and press conference with U.S. Senator  Marco Rubio, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to discuss port security, drug trafficking and the U.S. Caribbean Border.
 
A Fortuño endorsement would be a coup purely from a media standpoint – it would guarantee high-profile, positive coverage and feed the Romney narrative of momentum.

Fortuño is a rising star in Republican circles. He gave a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last year in the midst of the Republican Party of Florida’s straw poll. Amid cheers, he described how he reduced government spending and his own salary, reduced the territories workforce and helped erase a more than $3 billion budget shortfall – all in a Democratic state.

Another key for Fortuño: immigration. Compared to other Latinos, such as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans have a tendency to be less opposed to conservative immigration stances, such as Romney’s, because they’re U.S. citizens. Similarly, Cubans (the largest Hispanic group in Florida, followed by Puerto Ricans) have special immigration status.

Also, according to some, there’s growing unrest in Puerto Rico as more immigrants arrive from the Dominican Republic and other areas, leading to some immigration tensions. That could make Romney’s immigration stance more appealing – at least to Republican Puerto Ricans – rather than merely not objectionable.

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