Obama pledges support for Puerto Rico

By the Associated Press | June 14, 2011 | 12:13 PM EDT

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — President Barack Obama is telling Puerto Ricans that he's committed to their success and self-determination as he makes the first official presidential visit to the U.S. island territory in 50 years.

The quick trip Tuesday also allowed Obama to court the millions of Puerto Ricans who live on the mainland and could be an important voter bloc in the 2012 presidential election.

Obama spoke to a friendly audience at the airport in San Juan shortly after arriving on Air Force One from Florida — a crucial swing state home to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

In his remarks, the president quickly turned to the important issue of the island's status, renewing his commitment to allowing residents here to determine their own future through a referendum.