Following a herd of Republican Party support throughout the nation, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has endorsed Republican presidential candidate and firebrand Donald Trump for the presidency, calling Trump the only remaining candidate who has laid out a “genuine plan” for the U.S. territories and commonwealths.
In a statement yesterday, Torres explains. “For more than a year, Republican leaders from all the territories have discussed how best to approach the Republican Party Presidential election in 2016. The decision made at the time was to coalesce around the candidate that put forward the best and most realistic plan for the territories and commonwealths. For too many years we have been courted for our votes in the primary season but forgotten in the general election.”
“The CNMI has had visits from four different Presidential Campaigns over the past year. At the time, only Dr. Ben Carson [former presidential candidate] had put together a plan which acknowledged that we have been ignored and suffer inequalities,” Torres said. “Carson pledged to appoint a special assistant in the White House directly responsible for the territories and commonwealths. This person would complement the office of Insular Affairs and their core function. Additionally, Carson would appoint a Territory and Commonwealth Advisory Council that would include representatives from each Territory and Commonwealth. This council would identify federal inconsistencies with regard to our islands and put together a package of proposals to correct them.
“Dr. Carson unfortunately suspended his campaign and endorsed Donald Trump a few days ago. At this point, I was made aware that Donald Trump not only supported Dr. Carson’s plan for the territories and commonwealth—he adopted it!
Torres said he has heard “nothing” from any of the other candidates running for President.
“I made a decision to support the candidate who genuinely put forward a plan to help all the territories and commonwealths,” he said. “On Saturday and in my personal capacity, I endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President.”
“By the same token, I extend my congratulations to the CNMI Democratic Party for holding a successful and peaceful caucus Saturday evening,” Torres added. “Because we may prefer different candidates, I encourage that we respect each other’s rightful decisions and refrain from negative attacks on one another.”
The endorsement, which broke on Twitter Saturday afternoon, drew cries of disbelief from young CNMI voters in the mainland and on island embarrassed by the NMI leader’s support of a candidate they believe was an open bigot to races and people like themselves.
“[Torres] endorses hate for his own people,” young voter Lee Roy Sablan Jr. told Saipan Tribune, after local GOP director Jason Osborne shared the news on Twitter Saturday. “Trump is a racist and bully and anyone who endorses him might as well as be saying they are racists and bullies too.”
“I never got a chance to vote in the last election,” said Sablan, but “even then I thought that it was difficult to choose [late governor Eloy] Inos because he was running with Torres. After hearing this endorsement, I do not think that any responsible young voter would choose a person like this to lead our islands.”
Some young people like Genevieve Dela Cruz, reacted with disbelief and took to Torres’ Facebook page to demand an explanation.
“Please say this is a mistake,” wrote Dela Cruz on Torres’ Facebook page.
“We are being represented in a way that supports making fun of people with disabilities, hating Muslims and Mexicans, making derogatory remarks toward women, turning a blind eye to violence in the name of winning, white supremacy, and so many more terrible things,” she added. “We barely get a say in this and the only part where we do get to choose and that’s what was chosen for us by you? No way.”
Still, young voter and recent college graduate Vinnie Orsini says Torres “is on the wrong side of history.”
“Donald Trump divides people, he builds walls against people and against different parts of the community. And if there is anything this country is about, it’s about unifying people,” Orsini said. “I think for the majority of Americans and for the younger generation of Americans, I think we are leaning toward a democratic society. If there is anything that we need in the Marianas, it’s progress and change.”
“Donald Trump represents the 1 percent and represents what is worst about America,” Orsini added.
Asked if he thought Trump could tell the difference between a Chamorro or Mexican, one local Democrat, Ajani Burrell said, “Probably not.”
“Although to be fair lots of people probably couldn’t,” Burrell added. “They just mostly have to be voting for Donald Trump.”