Gerald R. Ford photo

Exchange With Reporters in Vail, Colorado, on Proposed Statehood for Puerto Rico.

December 31, 1976

REPORTER. I just missed the announcement this morning about your proposal that statehood come for Puerto Rico. Why did you--why are you going to make that recommendation?

THE PRESIDENT. For a good many years I visited Puerto Rico off and on. I have long felt that they had made tremendous progress, very significant economic and social and political progress. It seemed to me that the people of Puerto Rico had spoken, in the last election, for the candidate for Governor and the candidate for the House of Representatives. Both prevailed, and they both were sympathetic, which would be a good reflection of the attitude of the Puerto Rican people. So, it seemed to me that we ought to take an initiative here in Washington to indicate our full support for statehood for Puerto Rico.

Q. Why did you decide not to wait until President-elect Carter had taken office and let him do it?

THE PRESIDENT. Because I'm President until January 20.

Q. Sir, did you consult with Governor Romero Barcelo before announcing this?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not, personally. But I have, on a number of occasions, talked to former Governor Luis Ferre, and I have, on a number of occasions while in Puerto Rico, discussed the overall problems with the former mayor of San Juan, who is now the new Governor, who is being sworn in. And it seemed to me that it was a very apropos time. So, no one could accuse me of any political--not ambitions, but political motives. I certainly hope it will be well received here and well received by the American people.

Thank you all very much.

Q. What do you think about congressional approval of the proposal?

THE PRESIDENT. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. Do you think the Puerto Ricans would approve?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think there is a pretty good indication that they are sympathetic.

Note: The exchange began at 2 p.m. at Chairlift 6.

As printed above, this item follows the text of the White House press release.

Gerald R. Ford, Exchange With Reporters in Vail, Colorado, on Proposed Statehood for Puerto Rico. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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