'Where is the mayor? Well, that's a mystery,' president of Portugal says of Elorza

When President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was on stage in Providence Sunday, June 10, 2018, for an event celebrating Portugal, he questioned where May Jorge Elorza suddenly ran off to. (Courtesy of For the Love of Portuguese Food)

The president of Portugal is making headlines in his country for an incident in Rhode Island involving Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

When President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was on stage in Providence Sunday night for an event celebrating Portugal, he questioned where Elorza suddenly ran off to.

“Where is the mayor? That’s a mystery. The mystery of the mayor that disappeared in the middle of the ceremony,” Rebelo de Sousa said as he tried to thank the mayor for presenting him a key to the city just minutes earlier.

Media outlets in Portugal picked up on the president’s jokes about the missing mayor.

Milena Rodrigues, who posted video to Facebook, thought the president’s response was funny.

“I loved it. I thought it was very entertaining,” she said. “He came across as very down to earth.”

But some who were there, like Ana Motta, aren’t laughing at Elorza leaving the stage.

“Me, personally, as a Portuguese American, I found it insulting and so did a lot of people around me,” Motta said.

The mayor’s office told NBC 10 News Elorza stepped off stage briefly to handle a personal matter and returned and spoke with the president.

“He’s a good mayor, a very good mayor,” Rebelo de Sousa said.

NBC 10 caught up with the President of Portugal at an event in New Bedford, where he offered an explanation and defended Elorza.

NBC 10: What did you think of the mayor leaving the stage in Providence last night? Were you upset?

President Rebelo de Sousa: No. You want to know what happened. He was waiting a baby. I mean, his wife is pregnant and all of a sudden he was told, ‘Well, the baby is to be born.’ So, he left and he came back later on. It’s a very good reason. A baby.”

The president said he joked, but was not bothered.

NBC 10 reported months ago that Elorza and his longtime girlfriend are expecting a baby in June.

But the mayor’s office said Elorza did not tell the president the baby was coming.

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