Aides: Clinton raised up to $500,000 during Puerto Rico trip

Story highlights

  • Clinton attended a private fundraiser at The Condado Plaza Hilton
  • The event offers an explanation for why Clinton came to San Juan for an otherwise news-free event

San Juan, Puerto Rico (CNN)Hillary Clinton came to Puerto Rico ostensibly to talk about health care and the economic crisis gripping this American island territory.

But campaign aides revealed late Friday that the former secretary of state had another reason for visiting the island: it was an opportunity for her to raise between $200,000 and $500,000 for her campaign.
Clinton attended a private fundraiser at The Condado Plaza Hilton here for about 90 minutes, where about 200 people turned out, contributing between $1,000 to $2,700. After the event, Clinton boarded a private jet to return to the U.S. mainland.
    The event offers an explanation for why Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, came to San Juan for an otherwise news-free event. Earlier Friday, Clinton visited a hospital in the city, where she attended a roundtable discussion on health care. She also discussed the island territory's political status, which she said should be left in the hands of its people, not politicians in Washington.
    "It is just hard to justify how you can be an American citizen in Puerto Rico and be treated so different in so many ways," Clinton said. "This comes down to the basic rights. Puerto Ricans have the right to form a government of your choice that is representative at all levels of government, just as you have a right to equality as American citizens."
    Clinton never endorsed statehood but said she wanted to "ensure whatever choice Puerto Rico makes will be respected."
    Puerto Ricans can't vote in the general election for president, though they can take part in the Democratic and Republican primary campaigns, providing crucial delegates.
    Clinton and Marco Rubio, who also visited the island Friday, are the latest in a string of candidates to visit the island to make sure they're not taking any of those delegates for granted.
    Rubio wrote an op-ed arguing that residents should vote on whether they want to become a state and also announced his opposition to a bailout for Puerto Rico's bankruptcy.
    "Allowing Puerto Rican municipalities to reorganize their debts under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code would not solve Puerto Rico's problems and should only be a measure of last resort considered if Puerto Rico takes significant steps to fix its budget and economic mess," Rubio wrote in an op-ed on Medium on Thursday.
    Rubio blasted "liberal" economic policies, and tied the island territory's pending default on $73 billion in debt to policies supported by President Barack Obama and Clinton. Rubio also continued his call for a vote from island residents on statehood.
    "Puerto Rico should have a federally-sponsored vote on the island with two choices: become a state or not. If a majority of Puerto Ricans votes yes, Congress and the next president should respect their will and do what's necessary to admit them as the 51st state," he wrote.
    Even more critical to presidential candidates are the votes of Puerto Ricans living in Florida. A campaign stop in San Juan is effectively telegraphed to central Florida, where Puerto Ricans are a fast-growing constituency.