Wagner: I won't be PC; Wolf's visit to Puerto Rico 'bulls---'

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner answers questions from the public during a town hall event at the Shiloh Fire Hall, Sunday, August 5, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

In a heated Facebook Live video last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner criticized Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf's recent visit to Puerto Rico and said the effort was "bulls—."

The comment came during a live video on Wagner's campaign Facebook page Wednesday, Aug. 29, during his trip to Tioga County in northeastern Pennsylvania to inspect recent flood damage.

Wolf toured neighboring Bradford County on Aug. 15, just days after flooding devastated communities there, according to local media and the governor's webpage.

More:York County asking residents to submit storm damage information

Puerto Rico trip: In the video, Wagner angrily displays papers with headlines about the governor's recent trip to Puerto Rico.

During that time, Wolf was on a two-day trip to the U.S. territory to meet with Puerto Rican officials and business leaders to discuss economic ties and learn about continued recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria last year.

In the video, Wagner questioned why Wolf was going to Puerto Rico "when the people of Pennsylvania aren't being served."

"I'm not trying to be politically correct, and I won't be politically correct," he said. "I'm about to say something that might offend some people. But if I offend you, so what. There are municipalities that are struggling, and the governor going to Puerto Rico is bulls—, pure bulls—."

Wagner added the governor should "be taking care of Pennsylvanians and not taking care of other areas," and he promised such actions wouldn't take place if he makes it to the governor's office come November.

Puerto Ricans in U.S.: Wolf has been a strong supporter of Puerto Rican recovery efforts during his time in office, and the state itself already has strong ties to the territory.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country for its Puerto Rican population, with 423,755 residents — accounting for 8 percent of all Puerto Ricans in the U.S. — according to a 2016 study by Hunter College's Center for Puerto Rican studies in New York.

2018 study from the same entity also showed that nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans relocated to Pennsylvania following the hurricane, the fourth most in the country.

When the video resurfaced on Twitter this week, some users said the gubernatorial hopeful's comments were racist.

However, Wagner campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said the comments were only in reference to the fact that Wolf left while northeastern Pennsylvania communities were dealing with flooding.

"Scott's point in the video was that the governor should not have made the trip while areas in northeast Pennsylvania were still hurting from flood damage and looking for the necessary leadership and relief from Harrisburg," Romeo said. "Scott values all Puerto Ricans that live in Pennsylvania and their contributions, but he will be a governor who never leaves his constituents while they are dealing with a crisis."

While Wolf left the state Aug. 29 for a two-day trip to Puerto Rico, the governor has been touring flood damage in Pennsylvania since mid-August and is seeking federal aid for affected communities.

Wolf was to tour York County flood damage Wednesday, Sept. 5, after a news conference at the county's Office of Emergency Management. 

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Director Rick Flinn and local officials also were expected to be in attendance.