U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said she would consider the possibility of Puerto Rican statehood if a bill to that effect should reach Congress.

The San Juan daily El Nuevo Dia cited in its online edition Tuesday a brief statement made by the Missouri Democrat on a U.S. radio station.

McCaskill said, however, that Washington D.C. should have precedence over Puerto Rico in being granted the rights enjoyed by other states.

Puerto Rico came under Washington's sway in 1898 and island residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.

Since 1952, the island has been a Free Associated State: an unincorporated territory of the United States with broad internal autonomy, but without the right to conduct its own foreign policy.

Puerto Rico held Nov. 6 a non-binding referendum on the island's status in which 54 percent of the electorate voted "no" to the Free Associated State model.

The referendum included a second question with three options, in which 61.1 percent voted for U.S. statehood, 33.3 percent for Sovereign Free Associated State status, understood as a relationship between equals, and 5.5 percent for independence.

A total of 468,478 people left their ballots blank on the second question, an option recommended several months ago by the PPD party, whose leader, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, is the governor-elect of Puerto Rico after winning the Nov. 6 elections.

In Puerto Rico, local analysts said that if the blank ballots were added to votes for the Sovereign Free Associated State option - which several PPD leaders publicly supported - it would add up to more than those who voted for statehood.

Outgoing pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuño has sent a letter to President Barack Obama reminding him that the citizens of Puerto Rico reject a continuation of the current commonwealth status. EFE