March 15th, 2012
01:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum stands by English condition for Puerto Rico statehood

(CNN) – Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Thursday defended a condition he said Puerto Rico must meet to be eligible for statehood: "English needs to be the principal language."

Campaigning in the territory ahead of their Sunday primary, Santorum had on Wednesday said, "There are other states with more than one language, like Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English must be the principal language."

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Speaking to CNN's National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta on Thursday, he stood by his comments.

"Obviously Spanish will be spoken here on the island. But this needs to be a bilingual country not just a Spanish speaking country," he said. "Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking but it needs to have in order for it to integrate into American society, English has to be a language that is spoken here also and spoken universally."

Romney stakes opposition to Santorum over language issue

Puerto Rico designates both English and Spanish as official languages. There is no federal law stipulating an official language, but 31 states have adopted measures and Congress has included adoption of English as a requirement for statehood in previous cases.

Voters will be surveyed on their interest in statehood in a November referendum.

Asked by a reporter if the language issue would be a deal breaker, Santorum said he considers the matter important.

"I think that would be a condition," he said. "I think it's important."

The territory's delegate to Congress, Democrat Pedro Pierluisi, said on CNN's Starting Point Thursday that, "Santorum's view is narrow and a limiting view of what America is all about."

"English is the predominant language in the U.S. and will continue to be so, whether Puerto Rico becomes a state or not," Pierluisi added.

One of Santorum's delegates withdrew his support for Santorum over the matter, according to a local newspaper report. The Vocero paper reported that Hector Perez said he was no longer committed to Santorum. The party chair told the paper that one of the alternate delegates submitted by Santorum's campaign would fill the spot.

Puerto Rico holds a Republican primary on Sunday to allocate 20 of the territory's 23 delegates. Delegates will be distributed proportionally among candidates earning over 15% of the vote unless one candidate wins over 50%. In that case, he will receive all 20 delegates.

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Filed under: 2012 • Puerto Rico • Rick Santorum
soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Rich in NJ

    The GOP has thoroughly alienated the Latino vote already and Puerto Rico can't vote in Presidential elections, so his comment is actually irrelevant.

    March 15, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    I agree with what some have posted here suggesting that Santorum shoudl've reached out to Puerto Ricans by throwing out a little broken spanish (THAT would've gone a looong way,believe you me!), and eating a little MOFONGO with puerco asado. Instead he had the COJONES of asking for their vote after slamming them for speaking their native tongue.
    Te pegaste el tiro Santorum (you shot yourself Santorum).
    Obama 2012. Serioulsy America.

    March 15, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. N. Shapiro

    WELL, So much for "Conservative" support for State's Rights!
    Never thought much of Santor um, this, and home schooling, show he's a control freak.
    What a jack ass.

    March 15, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    Truth wrote:

    The English language is the common bond that unites people.

    According to God (and I assume you believe in him) this is what got the people in trouble.

    "They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do." So God said, "Come, let us go down and confound their speech." And so God scattered them upon the face of the Earth, and confused their languages, and they left off building the city, which was called Babel "because God there confounded the language of all the Earth."(Genesis 11:5-8).

    March 15, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. HRH

    "Puerto Rico designates both English and Spanish as official languages. "

    Ricky thinks he's in a foreign country?

    March 15, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Ourania

    Turtle 52:
    You are correct. I became US Citizen November 2001, I live in USA since 1990 and I am married with a US Citizen for 22 years.Both my test and interview with INS were in English.

    March 15, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Julia

    Hey Sanitarium, (mental that is). What about freedom of speech, Oh I forgot that just pertains to english right? Where does the First Amendment say, you have freedom of speech as long as it's english speakin' freedumb of speech? What this country needs is your vision, Duh, right-wing nut case tunnel vision.

    March 15, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. BLKMANinAmerica

    "Puerto Rico holds a Republican primary on Sunday to allocate 20 of the territory's 23 delegates. Delegates will be distributed proportionally among candidates earning over 15% of the vote unless one candidate wins over 50%. In that case, he will receive all 20 delegates."............................So at least we know who WILL NOT get more the 15% of P.R. votes (clue....R.S.) LMBAO.

    March 15, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    By the way Santorum, I speak three languages. Fluently. You?
    Obama 2012. Serioulsy America.

    March 15, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    In a hurry today. I was implying from the scripture (Genesis 11:5-8) that speaking only one language is what got us in trouble in the first place.

    March 15, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. benji

    Well this idiot just lost the Hispanic vote. LOL!!!

    March 15, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Dave

    to Gaylon and Turtle – The I gues that means we should just deport everyine who can not speak english, right?

    March 15, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. JJMcD

    In the best interest of Puerto Rico and the USA, we should seriously consider giving them their long over due independence.

    March 15, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Doug

    Has this idiot even stopped to think that perhaps Puerto Rico does not want to become a state? As a Territorial Posession, it enjoys many of the benefits of statehood without all the pratfalls, like paying Federal and State income taxes...And the people get to speak what ever da** language they want to. Why ruin Paradise? Oh...and it has never been a requirement of statehood, Mr. Moribund Santoribum, that there has to be an official language to be spoken. I think Puerto Rico is better off where it stands. If it ain't broke, why fix it with additional Republican Government Interference .

    March 15, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Bob C

    Get back in the clown car Rick. Your lips are moving again and really stupid stuff is coming out.

    March 15, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. Scott

    maybe someone should tell CNN contributor Ruben Navarrette about this. In every article, he complains that Latino's don't vote for republicans and he always wonders why... THIS IS WHY. BECAUSE UNLESS YOU'RE A RICH WHITE MAN, REPUBLICANS DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU!!!

    March 15, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. honeybe

    Is that a mannequin standing behind Santorum in the photo?

    March 15, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Rob Rubin

    Perhaps Santorum is using some sort of Jedi mind trick/reverse psychology kind of thing to get the votes down there. Puerto Ricans will accept that about the same time Rick Santorum shacks up at the Playboy Mansion.

    You know, it's going to be real fun watching Obama decimate whoever the GOP nominee is.

    March 15, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. Zenichi-Maro

    Wait. What? Did Santorum actually refer to Puerto Rico as a "nation?" And this clown in a suit wants to be president. Greeeeeat. Can't wait for THAT administration to take office. NOT.

    March 15, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Zenichi-Maro

    Sorry, I was wrong. Santorum referred to Puerto Rico as a "country," not as a "nation." Big difference, I'm sure. What with all the nuance he brings to the debate.

    March 15, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Frank

    Willard and El Santo are passionately doing lots of down downs lately. Given the gaffes they keep making, both of them are evolving into experts at being double stupid. Remember the Alaskan Airhead when she doubled down and maintained that she knew her American History (on the Paul Revere fiasco) and Chris Wallace elegantly tried to have her re-deem herself?

    March 15, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. GOP = Greed Over People

    "President Sanitarium, why did you order the attack on Canada?"

    "Just because, they speak French".

    What a macaroon!

    March 15, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Aaslan

    The more this insane theocratic war-vangelical open his mouth, the more I'm glad I pulled the lever for Ron Paul (no matter whether he can win or not), Mr. "insanitorum" is the real nut-case in this election!

    If you know your American history, truth is in it's early days America was possibly one of the most mulch-lingual nations in the world. Louisiana was largely a French-speaking state (General Beauregard, Union Officer and later Confederate General, for example, didn't speak English until he was 11 years old); German was widely spoken, and until World War I, and the anti-German bigotry that came with it, German-language private schools were common throughout the United States; New Mexico did not have an English-speaking majority until the 20th century; the Amish spoke the Pennsylvania German language; many Americans of the Maine and Vermont borderlands were French-speakers only. There is nothing wrong with speaking more than one language.

    March 15, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Zenichi-Maro

    Sorry, I was wrong. Santorum referred to Puerto Rico as a "country," not as a "nation."
    -------------–
    What difference does that make?
    Both words carry the connotation that you are in a foreign land, which Santorum obviously does not understand. He acts like he is Babel.

    March 15, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Once again, Rick is speaking in tongues.

    March 15, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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