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. Rudy NYC

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    i'll add that they must be id-card carrying christians!
    ------------------–
    This is obviously an imposter.

    March 15, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. jkINC

    Well Mr. Santorum I suppose we could do in Puerto Rico as we did in Hawaii and make the official teaching of the Hawaiian language illegal, as it was for nearly 100 years until bout 1984. What a putz.

    March 15, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Once again, Rick is speaking in tongues
    ------------------------
    Nice pun Wire!

    March 15, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. olcranky

    I hate to burst Frothy's bubble but Puerto Rico voted against becoming a state the last time it was on the table so his threat is empty

    March 15, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Jean Sartre, Milwaukee, WI

    I am just having the time of my life! It is so wonderful to see Williard, Sanatorium and Newt dishing all the dirt they can, not only at each other, but at other people on islands and in coutries, just to be the ONE to get their derriere kicked BIG TIME by President Obama in the Generl Election!

    Who would have ever thunk?

    I guess that's what the Republicant's mean by: AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM!

    March 15, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. tonyl

    Any territory we decide to take over then force the natives to learn our language and customs. We are the best.

    March 15, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. tonyl

    Romney is on the both side of this issue. He is on the both side of every issue. In fact he is on all sides of all the issues. Flip flop king of the GOP. He is a severe conservative but maybe a severe moderate or maybe a severe liberal. He is a severe christian or maybe a severe mormon. He is confused about what he stands for or what is his core values. The best chance for GOP.

    March 15, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Janer52

    really? REALLY? this guy scares the crap out of me.

    March 15, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. works for me

    What a dweeb. Always looks like someone just beat him up for his lunch money...

    March 15, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. RMW

    You are an elitist if you speak more than one language.

    March 15, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Phearis

    I hate to be the one to inform you of this Mr. Frothy but you ARE NOT the President and never will be. What you say and your ideas are that of lunacy and the rantings of a mad man. I feel sorry for anyone who you have power over.

    March 15, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. justin j

    clearly he doesn't care if the GOP get any Latino votes at all or wins the election. way to make the fastest-growing and second-biggest minority group feel like outcasts in their own country.

    March 15, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Louis

    How can ANYONE, ANYONE vote for this guy??? Im a republican, always have been, but when a candidate says that a cornerstone of the constitution, the separation of church and state makes him 'throw up', how can he be elected to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States? What happens when he says that freedom of speech or press makes him 'throw up'?
    Hes just like the Taliban. He wants to shove his religion and beliefs down everyones throat. He has no business being in the race

    March 15, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. mIKE

    I don't think Puerto Rico should be a state anyway. Nor do they want it supposedly.....so what does all this matter? 50 states. Thats enough.

    March 15, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. Turtle52

    Reply to Dave:

    I'm just stating the facts, you have to speak English to take the U.S. citizenship test. I don't care what language
    you speak. I speak nine.......how about you??? You obviously thought I was putting down people who speak
    other languages. WRONG!!!!

    March 15, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. that guy

    I hate to say it because I rarely agree with this guy, but I can see the point of making English a requisite of statehood. However, if that requisite there, Puerto Rican independence should also be on the table if the people of Puerto Rico so chose to go that route. By in large, they don't want that. However, if Puerto Rico does not want to go either route, they will have to deal with colony status that they have now. You can't be a state of the United States and enjoy the same privileges of being a state without meeting the same social standards of all other states.

    Both sides have to give a little here. The feds have to be willing to completely give up the right to this area if Puerto Rico chooses to fully embrace their cultural differences and want to become more independent (either through statehood or through national independence). Or Costa Rica will have to embrace American society if it wishes to become a U.S. state. If neither option is being seriously considered, then the current system is what should be rightfully instilled.

    March 15, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. Sid Fein

    Are they even interested in statehood?

    March 15, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. vatoloke

    Again, I really hope he gets the nomination so I don't have to bother with going to vote on election day as the latinos and the women will take care of re-electing President Obama for me.

    March 15, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. The Bitpyr8

    Is there any group that the GOP won't antagonize? I don't think they understand just how toxic their ideas are to the general population, and that their candidates, in their race to the bottom, clearly don't understand that they can't win an election by alienating everyone but old white people.

    March 15, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. DT

    Santorum is the most dangerous candidate for the presidency in the history of this country!

    March 15, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Rock Woman

    Why did Santorum pick Hawaii as his example of a state that speaks more than one language? Because Romney said "mahalo" after a victory there?

    March 15, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Lar 5

    Santorum hates everyone he cannot see reflected in his mirror. It is pathetic that the republican party can even consider this person to president of all the people of the United States. It is beyond comprehension .If elected he would demand that all follow the dictates of his church, religion and ideology.. You need to go back to Germany in the 1930′s to understand the danger facing this country and every man. woman and child who is not like him.

    March 15, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Deal with it

    I am part Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) blood but make no mistake - I am 100% AMERICAN. I know how to read and speak in Hawaiian, but my "native tongue" is standard American English. I get so ticked off when I see immigrants try to change the US to be just like their country. I don't mind the cultural exchange, but if you want to live here as a resident BE AN AMERICAN OR GO BACK HOME IF YOU LIKE IT SO MUCH.

    March 15, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. T in Dallas

    To take a note from that "other" Rick, he's really stepped in it now. If we were really serious about the English language then, why is the IRS making tax forms bilingual? Why are companies and advertisers making easy for non-english speakers NOT to assimilate?

    March 15, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. justin j

    reply to mike

    the larger point is that many Latinos feel rejected and unwanted by the GOP. look at California if you don't believe me. Nixon, Reagan, and other were able to win the state because they DIDN'T go out of their way to make Latinos the enemy. ever since a certain anti-illegal immigrant ballot initiative that many Latinos felt demonized the group as a whole, the state has been solidly democrat. except for Arnold, no republican has won statewide office here in nearly 20 years and many in the CA GOP will happily tell you Arnold wasn't one of them. combine that with demographic trends and the GOP is in big trouble long-term.
    Its why W and McCain, among others favor, or did at one time, a softer approach on the illegal-immigration issue. the issue is absolutely killing the GOP. heck, Arizona is ready to revolt in this election. this just throws a massive amount of gasoline on an already raging bonfire. I'd be willing to bet this will be HUGE on the Spanish-language TV networks. why do you think so many in the GOP are desperate to have Rick Rubio as their VP nom? They're praying he can somehow save them, provided the candidates for Pres don't tarnish the party so badly that Rubio calculates ANY association with them will be bad for his career.

    March 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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