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Clinton, Rubio court Puerto Rico voters as crisis looms

Puerto Rico’s financial crisis loomed over the dueling weekend campaign appearances by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Marco Rubio, two presidential contenders with sharply different positions on a key issue forPuerto Rican voters whose influence is growing in US politics.

In a speech delivered entirely in Spanish, Rubio blamed Clinton supporters for the US territory’s economic problems as he railed against giving Puerto Rico bankruptcy protection to resolve a staggering $72 billion debt.

“The people who are rallying behind her today are the people who put Puerto Rico in this fiscal mess to begin with,” the young Florida senator told about 150 people crammed into an open-air restaurant in San Juan’s gritty neighborhood of Santurce.

Clinton, who won Puerto Rico’s 2008 Democratic primary election, defended her support for giving Puerto Rico bankruptcy protection during a round-table discussion focused on the island’s health-care problems. She took an indirect shot at Rubio, charging, “You can’t fix your economy through austerity.”

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