Obama Stumps for the Veteran Vote in Puerto Rico

(CBS)

From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

BAYAMON, PUERTO RICO -- Barack Obama took his campaign to Puerto Rico today, where he promised the U.S. territory's war veterans they will have a voice in his administration. "I really think that one of the things that you learn very quick is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil," Obama said at a town hall meeting designed to address veterans affairs. "And if you don't have anyone squeaking for you, that's a problem."

The territory has 150,000 war veterans, according to the campaign, and Obama told the vets they deserve some type of representation.

Many of the veterans today seemed genuinely impressed that Obama tried to tackle their issues. "I think we're making history today and after 109 years, a candidate for the President of the United States is finally talking with veterans in Puerto Rico," said the President of the Vietnam Vets of America in Puerto Rico, Jorge Pedrosa. "To us, that's very important."

Obama told the group that the Iraq war may have produced a higher awareness of certain issues, such as mental health. "One of the good things about this war, Iraq and Afghanistan, is even those who opposed the war understand they should honor their veterans, and so I've seen a much better attitude in this war than in previous ones."

Obama was asked about Puerto Rican statehood several times throughout the event; however, he did not take a side on the issue. He said Puerto Rico has a right to make a decision on self determination, and that he will represent their issues until a decision is made.

While Puerto Rico does not have voting Congressmen and its citizens do not have the right to vote for president, they can vote in the June 1st Democratic primary here.