The governor of Puerto Rico on Thursday reportedly vowed to take a stand, if necessary, against the White House amid recent discussions surrounding disaster aid for the U.S. island territory previously devastated by hurricanes.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s remarks came during an interview with CNN, after being asked whether it “sometimes” felt like he was “dealing with a bully.”
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said, adding that “it would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
The governor also told the network that the president treats Puerto Ricans “as second-class citizens.”
“And my consideration is, I just want to have the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information that he’s getting is wrong,” he said. “I don’t think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the president does any good. I don’t think anybody can beat the president on a kicking and screaming match.”
“I think that what I am aiming to do is making sure that reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails and that we can have a discussion,” he continued.
President Trump reportedly expressed his opposition this week to allotting further disaster aid to Puerto Rico, with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., saying the president told Republicans at a closed-door luncheon on Tuesday that aid for the territory "is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten."
Trump also told reporters on Thursday that Puerto Rico has been well-looked after under his leadership and claimed that $91 billion was allocated to the U.S. territory, a figure which he said was substantially more than what was set aside for Texas or Florida. It’s unclear how he arrived at the number.
“Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being. And I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it,” he said.
“But you do have a mayor of San Juan that frankly doesn’t know what she’s doing. And the governor … they’ve got to spend the money wisely,” Trump continued. “They don’t know how to spend the money and they’re not spending it wisely. But I’m giving them more money than they've ever got, gotten.”
Also Thursday, Democratic Florida Rep. Darren Soto brought forward legislation to give Puerto Rico statehood, NBC News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.