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. Charlie from the North

    Oh and they have to swear they will be Christians too right? Oh should I say "Far Right?"

    March 15, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "America has changed Santorum "

    Pssst....they know that...it's why they're flipping out.

    March 15, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    I know Puerto Ricans that have a better knowledge of the English language than some of these backwoods folks down here in the great red state of Texas. And they live here also.

    March 15, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. Forrest

    Umm.....Rick, English isn't even the primary language in parts of the Continental US. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to visit Miami. Only state i've lived in out of 4 where i've been turned down for jobs because I didn't speak Spanish.

    March 15, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  5. Stop panicking!

    Rick can demand anything he wants. He sounds more and more like Palin all the time. Following her strategy for success will get him exactly where it got her. Sitting at home, wondering what the heck happened. The likelyhood of him actually winning the Republican nomination is almost nil. The likelyhood of him becoming POTUS is less than zero. Most of the American voting public don't even come close to considering him a viable candidate. As for Puerto Rico, he may be suprised to know that most Puerto Ricans are bi-lingual (Rick and your followers, that word does not mean they're gay; it means that they can speak two languages fluently; which is more than most of you can). Rick may also be surprised to find that most Puerto Ricans do not want to be the 51st state. In fact, they'd rather be their own country. The only thing this demand will succeed in doing is removing more votes from an already failing campaign. Good strategy Rick! Keep taking strategies from Palin's play book! FAIL!

    March 15, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. ex military

    We need a psych eval on the presidential candidates. Before they're on the ballot.

    March 15, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  7. Thanks Rick!

    Appreciate your work campaigning for the Democratic party. Thanks for your non-hypocrisy in showing the true face of the far right - you're the best!

    March 15, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Forrest

    Hate to burst Santorum's bubble, but English isn't even the primary language in parts of the Continental US. If you think otherwise, move to Miami. I've been turned down for retail jobs because I didn't speak Spanish.

    March 15, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. canttakeajoke

    Barnum & Bailey 2012

    March 15, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. kakazoid

    santorum has a pair telling puerto ricans to adopt english as the official language when english is not even official in the US !!! what a jack @zz !!!

    March 15, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. migeli

    Elect Santorum then set watches back 3000 years.

    March 15, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. walleye46

    I can not believe how totally ignorant and BACKWARD this bumpkin is. What is even worse are the FOLLOWERS he has. How much MORE IGNORANT are they???

    March 15, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  13. petemg

    Okay so why isn't English the official language of the United States of America. We do not have it so why should they.

    March 15, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. MissE

    This is actually better than I expected from Santorum. I would've bet money he'd demand that Puerto Rico speak American.

    March 15, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. 1tonks

    What a bigot!! Please, someone pull him from the polls. This man is a hypocrite!

    March 15, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. Jay Shapiro

    Little Ricky has scared away the Women's vote, the Black vote, the Hispanic vote, and the Catholics aren't all that crazy about him either. Please, please Little Ricky keep talking and running, and running and talking. Pretty soon people will start whispering that the Democratic National Committee kidnapped Little Ricky and turned him into a Manchurian Candidate. The gift that keeps on giving ...

    March 15, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. michael

    sanitorium is just an ignorant evangelical whose 15 minutes are about up. i am amazed that there are enough stupid asses in this country to give him the time of day

    March 15, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. peacemonger

    Obama 2012 all the way! Canadians for Obama!

    March 15, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Sue

    The Republicans that support this Gay Bashing, Woman hater, Religious nutcake don't deserve to vote, this man is ignorant and all who support him are just as ignorant or worse. This man is single handedly killing the chances of any Republican getting into the White House not to mention he is taking away keeping control in the House, they are not only going to lose the Presidency, Santorum is going to ruin the chances for any Republican getting into the Senate or the House.......,

    March 15, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. david Rutledge

    English language is just a beginning demand; next will be English speaking, straight, Christian Republicans if Puerto Rico wants to become a state. Just curious – does Santorum speak any other languages besides English and Hate?

    March 15, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. frpdp1008

    English is the language of international trade and tourism, and Puerto Ricans therefore already speak read and write English. True, it is not a principle language as such but in a lot of homes in the US not only is Spanish spoken, but French, German, and even Russian and Chinese are also spoken by family members that also speak excellent English.

    At one time I was also conservative enough to have insisted on this, but unlike Santorum I grew up into a greater world. I am an American, but I am also a human being from the planet Earth living in this century, not the 16th century!!!

    March 15, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Tom

    This guy really is clueless. I hope he wins the GOP nomination for POTUS.

    March 15, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. frag

    Thanks Rick! The Republicans have already alienated a large portion of the Latino vote with their immigration laws. Now Santorum wants to enlarge the percentage even more. President Obama thanks you from the bottom of his heart. Just keep on being your naturally biased self; don't stop on our account! We love Rick!

    March 15, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  24. jb

    If Santorum were to be elected (joke, not going to happen) then Latin will become mandatory

    March 15, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. T'sah From Virginia

    ►TRENDING: Santorum stands by English condition for Puerto Rico statehood◄
    Yep – Still STUCK on STUPID just like the American people thought he would!!

    Obama 2012 – The ONLY Trusted Way Forward – and Dominican Mama would add, "Seriously America!!!"

    March 15, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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