Mitt Romney announced the endorsement Friday of a key Hispanic leader - Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno -- while campaigning in Florida just ahead of the primary.

"As president, I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on the issues most pressing for the people of Puerto Rico - job creation, public safety and resolving the Island's 113-year political status question. Every job created on the island is another American job added to our nation's economic comeback," Romney said in a statement.

Fortuno, a rising star in the Republican Party and the first Republican to be elected as governor of Puerto Rico since 1969, will be joining Romney at an event in Orlando this evening.

In a statement, Fortuno said Romney's private-sector experience can provide economic stability for generations and "be applied to all challenges."

Earlier Friday, Romney said he would support a move by Puerto Rico to become a state, noting Fortuno was "passionate" about the issue. His statements drew large cheers at the Hispanic Leadership forum in Miami.

"I expect the people of Puerto Rico will decide, like he feels, to become a state, and I can tell you that I will work with him -- that if that vote comes out in favor of statehood we will go through the process in Washington to provide statehood to Puerto Rico."

Puerto Rican voters will vote on the issue of statehood in November.