March 15th, 2012
01:21 PM ET
3 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. Seablade

    Heard in Italy: If you Speak Three Languages, You are Trilingual, If You Speak Two Languages, You Are Bilingual. If You Speak One Language, You Are American.

    March 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. T in Dallas

    Hmm...Rick do you think you may have offended the Puerto Ricans in THEIR country while PANDERING for votes?

    March 15, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. T in Dallas

    Rick do you think you may have offended the Puerto Ricans in THEIR country while PANDERING for votes? Just amazing the arrogance and self righteousness these GOP'ers have of the world...

    March 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. xmxm

    How about accent? Must they aslo speak in "pure" American accent? Which one should they choose: New England, southern, Appalachian? Is it ok to speak one or two words of Spanish in between their English sentences? (Asian) Indians have mastered the art of mixing languages. Will PR people be allowed to mix languages?

    March 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. xmxm

    How about accent? Must they aslo speak in pure American accent? Which one should they choose: New England, southern, Appalachian? Is it ok to speak one or two words of Spanish in between their English sentences? (Asian) Indians have mastered the art of mixing languages. Will PR people be allowed to mix languages?

    March 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. clarke

    If everyone is made in his image, he rejects them. I can see that my God is very different from his.

    March 15, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Dennis

    Honestly, I don't think we need to make English the official language of all our states/territories. While it may be economically advisable for individuals to learn English, we really need to be more open to the value of different languages/cultures in our country.

    If I were in a position of power in this country, I'd open the border and make immigration easier. I'd limit welfare programs and reposition them with the focus of helping individuals help themselves. Then America would truly be the land of liberty.

    March 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. clarke

    OOps! "if everyone is NOT made in his image, he rejects them" is what I meant to say.

    March 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. bob

    How can Romney stake opposition to Santorum over the language issue? If that IDIOT ever gets into office the first thing he's going to do is change his capriciois mind. Like some one else said on another blog. We don't need a president who wears flip-flops we neeed a president who wears GOLDEN SLIPPERS!

    March 15, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. chris

    This guy is an absolute idiot!!!!

    March 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. TKO

    Rick? Can you just say it out loud? "I will bring Christianity and whiteness to all, as we did for the slaves and the indigenous nations. I will bring you Cultural Genocide!"

    March 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. maiprue

    I want pres Bush back.

    March 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Romney is out of touch!

    Santorum has foot in mouth disease, he can't help himself. Santourm is an angry white man.

    March 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. BLKMANinAmerica

    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". I hear you and this is such a true statement with a twist.................................the reason the repuk (GW Bush) was "selected" in 2000 is with a vast majority of repuks, when all else FAILS......................tell LIES then DENY DENY DENY. Good to see that wont work twice in America...........LMAO.

    March 15, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. Larry L

    Santorum is working his voting base on the Mainland. He knows his bread & butter Teavangelical base is xenophobic and bigoted. They love the English-only concept but have no real idea why. I suspect the unspoken fear of Hispanic immigrants "taking over" is the reason for this particular fear... they have so many fears and prejudices...

    March 15, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Illeagle-j1

    For someone who plans to give his concession speech in latin, this is a "REDICU LOUSE" demand.

    March 15, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. John B.

    OMG how funny. They don't speak English HERE why are they going to speak English there?

    March 15, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Hector Cifredo

    I'm a Puertorrican, and i love my culture and heritage, but i also love the United States, and would like my Island who have contributed a lot to the United States become part of the Union as the 51 state. I would like to clarify to Mr. Sanatorium, that in our public schools English is thought from 1st grade all the way up into to college. And is also required to learn Puerto Rico, and the United States History at schools. Most of our new generations speak both languages, and we are quite integrated to the American culture, as most of the sates, and the rest of the world. It's to bad, that he can't see, thanks to his narrow view of America, the we have been integrating to the American system for the past 100 years. His comments only reflects his ignorance, and lack of knowledge, that make him unfit to be President of our nation. He doesn't even realize that America was built by immigrants and by people of different cultures and religions, and that that is precisely the beauty and greatness of the United States of America, the land of the Free. We just want to become part of our father nation. Republicans i will ask for a favor, pleas vote for this guy in and choose him as your candidate for the presidency, it will help a lot re-elect Barack Obama. Thanks for your time.

    March 15, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. jim

    Would he make Rush his VP?

    March 15, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. richard from moorpark CA.

    There are numerous people in the history of politics on both sides of the isle who one can say "Hats off every one, a genius!" Rick Santorum is one the has the "Hats back on everyone, an Idiot!" line connected to him.

    March 15, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Patriot Awesome

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but this batch of republican candidates makes Bush look like a genius.

    March 15, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Chris

    Separation of Santorum and the Oval Office. It's the only way to prevent this country from slipping back into the 1920's.

    March 15, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. george

    Quite the presidential demand from someone who will never be president.

    March 15, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Tim Fotinos

    Puerto Rico has had "join, not join, or leave" opportunities before, they always choose to remain a commonwealth. Unless the US were to force the issue (be a state or become independent) the people there will probably remain as they are. Adding a caveat (oh, you must speak English) makes eternal fence sitting even easier for the islanders.

    March 15, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Cindy

    Well there goes the Puerto Rican vote. Who does this guy think is left to vote for him?

    March 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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