On the first stop of a statewide bus tour promoting his gubernatorial campaign, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine hammered the state and federal government's response to Hurricane Maria Tuesday from inside the home of a prominent Puerto Rican activist.
One of four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida's governor, Levine called the federal government's response to the damage done by the hurricane "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American history." He criticized the recently passed tax overhaul for passing a new tax on the island's manufacturing trade and also sought to tie Gov. Rick Scott, who has regularly promoted Florida's efforts to assist displaced Puerto Ricans, to President Donald Trump by calling him Trump's "BFF."
"How could they do that?" he said about the tax bill. "It's unbelievable. They just don't care about Puerto Rico."
Before stopping in the area of the state with the largest Puerto Rican community, Levine's campaign team tapped consultants to help with Puerto Rican outreach. He ended up visiting the Lake Irma Shores home of Pura Delgado Andino, an 86-year-old caretaker who worked for Bill Clinton's 1994 presidential campaign and, according to a Congressional proclamation in 2013, helped designate the I-4 corridor as a political phenomenon. Delgado was born in Yabucoa, where Hurricane Maria made landfall.
During his visit, Levine repeated his opposition of the Jones Act and evoked his memories as a child whose family made weekly visits to Old San Juan. He talked about his experience just after Hurricane Maria, when he chartered a plane to deliver supplies to the island.
Before he left, Levine told the small group who gathered to meet with him that Puerto Ricans will be the difference in the 2018 gubernatorial election, and said that as the governor's race goes the 2020 presidential race will go.
“The Puerto Rican community can change the world. What happens in this election changes the world,” he said. “It’s time for Puerto Ricans to register, to vote, and to remember what happened and who was there and who wasn’t.”