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. EdSantaFe

    This theocrat imbecile needs to go away and NOW.

    March 15, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Nick

    Santorum wants women in the kitchen, gays in the closet, Mexicans in Mexico, Muslims in the middle east and Catholics to rule the world.. because then no one would be oppressed!!

    March 15, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Ipso

    It needs to be the principal language in the other 50, too.

    March 15, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. slashrancid

    I want President Cheney back.

    March 15, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. whocares

    A typical GOP remark, Latinos get out and vote for all the democrats before the GOP rounds us all up and puts us in a concentration camp.

    March 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Cindy

    I have been working with Puerto Ricans for over 50 years, and I have never met a Puerto Rican that could not speak English.

    March 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. Andrew

    This moronic bufoon is telling a native people that their langiuage is secondary to English? This idiot is the GOP candidate for POTUS???!!!Tell ya what Sanctimoron..I'm outlawing Catholocism because it was an Italian Religion first and we don't allow foreign anything here..Especially since it was originally done in Latin!!! What a idiotic putz....

    March 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Great_Day_For_USA

    Say it again and say it LOUD.

    NO ENGLISH – NO STATEHOOD!

    USA does not stand for United Spanish America.

    March 15, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. sara

    Auha...My friends that are Rican can speak English better than all three of the Clowns in the republican race.

    March 15, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. manipulate me

    Goes to show why the southern states voted for Mr. Sanitarium. They are bigoted morons. The people in the island colonies have more common sense! Because they voted for the right man. Romney 2012!!

    March 15, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Dilip Samuels

    Wel!l! Well!! One of the CNN guest panel members called Santorum a "Dufus"

    Given his uniformed pandering to his right wing Republican Tea Party Christian vote ..he should know that English is a language in Puerto Rico

    Add that to his extreme views on abortion, immigration, education ...can America afford to elect this right wing ......

    Where is he living .....America has changed Santorum ..Your right wing buddies are a decreasing breed

    March 15, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. programmergirl

    While I heartily disagree with most of Santorum's views, in this case, I agree with him. If they want to join the US, they need to speak English. Period. If they don't like that, then don't become a state.

    March 15, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. helomoto12354

    I don't blame. In order to be the United States of America, we need to be United.

    March 15, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. marc

    Most Puerto Ricans already know how to speak English. Besides, what does it matter if some don't? If an individual lives in a place where English is the predominant language, and he/she doesn't know how to speak it, it hurts that individual more than it hurts anyone else. Makes it tough for them to get a job, communicate with others, etc. Those who want to advance their position in life will realize the importance of English and learn it. People should be allowed to make their own choices and take responsibility for their own destinies, rather than having the government dictate every little thing in their lives. That's what the true conservative philosophy is based on. Santorum does not embody true conservatism. He's just trying to appeal to racists who have an irrational fear of people from other cultures, and perhaps is somewhat racist himself.

    March 15, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Terri

    Why would PR want statehood? They reap all the benefits now without having to pay taxes.

    March 15, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. naygie

    This is another sign of ignorance....and by the way, does he know what the referendom of statehood means? Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens already! Obviously he has no idea what it is!!!!

    March 15, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Orion

    Telling a local population that they are inferior seems like a great strategy to win the republican primary!

    March 15, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. Saffrondog

    Perfect timing for this interview, Rick! When you get down to the bayou next week, be sure to tell the people down there they need to learn how to cook American food.

    March 15, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. Jack in Florida

    Guess who can kiss the Latino vote good bye!!!

    March 15, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. m

    Open mouth, Insert foot.

    Just another example of santorum's narrow minded view of the entire world. WASP best describes his view of the world.

    March 15, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. wgf

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    March 15, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Yuri

    We wholeheartedly clamor for Santorum/Palin ticket. One is a barbarian and the other is a baffoon. That will be a perfect pair to ruin the US, or atleast bring it to he brink of disaster. What a clan of clowns!

    March 15, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. MaryM

    Another Joke republican candidate. The repub candidates are fighting it out in the primarys to see who gets the honor of losing to President Obama in the NOV 2012 general election

    March 15, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. Tim

    I know a few Puerto Ricans and they definitely speak and write American English better than most continential U.S. citizens. What some of you fail to comprehend, they learn BOTH languages fluently. Mr. Santorum failed on the part where both languages are identified as the official language of the country- HELLO. Good gracious some people are dense. His media trainers get an F for preparation. it was a softball question. If English is already an official language of a nation, then it shouldn't be an English. So what if Spanish is also an official language. I am pretty sure you can go to most populus cities and see billboards in how many different languages? So what is the problem. Again, a F for his handlers.

    March 15, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. doug

    I love this guy. Please republinuts, please please please nominate him to run in November!! I am begging you.

    March 15, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
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