Campaigning In Puerto Rico, Clinton Stays Neutral on Its Political Status

(CBS)
From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

HORMIGUEROS, P.R. -- During a morning church service, Hillary Clinton told a group of parishioners that she is glad that she did not listen to naysayers who have called for her to step aside in the race.

"If I had listened to those who have been talking in the last several months, we would not be having this campaign in Puerto Rico today," she told churchgoers in this small town a few hours outside of San Juan.

The campaign in Puerto Rico revolves around one ongoing debate over the island's political status. Currently, Puerto Rico is considered a "commonwealth" and a U.S. territory and does not enjoy the same rights as states do on the mainland. One of the biggest differences is that Puerto Rico does not have the right to vote for president in the general election, but they are allowed to vote in the primary.

The debate over Puerto Rico's political status is a difficult one and remains a heated issue in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico. But the issue is even more sensitive to Clinton who, as a Senator from New York, represents nearly 1 million Puerto Ricans. Today, Clinton stayed neutral on the highly contested issue.

"I believe all people are entitled to a representative form of government at all levels of government and that the people of Puerto Rico should have the right to determine by majority vote the status you choose from among all the options," Clinton said in her brief remarks.

"I have no preference, my only commitment is to work with those of all factions and with the Congress to give you the right to make that decision."

It was certainly the political safe move to make as Puerto Ricans gear up to vote in the presidential primary on June 1.

Clinton also indirectly defended her decision to stay in the race despite facing almost impossible odds to grasp the nomination.

"I am very grateful that I have this opportunity to come to Puerto Rico to talk with you, to listen to you to visit across from one end of the islands to the other, with my message that there isn't anything we cannot do together if we seek God's blessing and if we stay committed and not deterred by the setbacks that often fall in every light."

Clinton spoke of the scriptures and at one point told the crowd, "Do not go weary doing good, for in due time, we shall reap if we do not give up."

She arrived nearly 30 minutes late to the church service which was held almost entirely in Spanish, forcing Clinton to lean back and listen to an interpreter throughout the service.