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. ThinkAgain

    I think all people should strive to learn English, not only because it is the predominant language of the US, but because it is the language used internationally (as French used to be).

    That said, Sanctimonious needs to stop with all this "demanding" stuff. He really is the pompous theocrat, wanting nothing more than to make everyone's behavior conform to his narrow, out-of-date view of the world.

    March 15, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. Orso

    Most Puerto Ricans speak English fluently, as a matter of fact; most Latin Americans speak English better than G.W. Bush. This is not about what language they speak, but about making it the "Principal Language" of the island, and that is just plain foolish.
    The only condition for statehood should be the willingness to make this the greatest country in the world, and the willingness to fight for that goal. I believe Puerto Ricans have demonstrated both, no need to force them to give up their heritage or pride.

    March 15, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Jake

    Goes to show you the ignorance of this man Santorum. Picks and issue he knows nothing about. Puerto Rico has been a part of the US for many many years and it's people citizens of the USA. English is spoken there as well as Spanish. Puerto Ricans serve in the military and are on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan doing what they as patriots do, unlike the coward Santorum and Romney. All while speaking English with their fellow soldiers. I don't where Santorum gets his information from but there is nothing more foolish than to speak on something he has no clue on. Today's generation and the generation before speak both languages. It's Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the USA, not Mexico or Peru or some exotic far away land. That shows you how ignorant and out of touch he is. Somebody should tell him that Hawaii is also a state of the union, and not man-made vacation island.

    March 15, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. td

    Haha...this guy...Imagine him in front of foreign leaders....

    March 15, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. Whatever

    Chalk that voting block good bye!!!

    March 15, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. td

    If proper english is needed, better throw out Ole Miss and Alabama.

    March 15, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  7. tony

    Since Sanctomonius is supporting Israe'sl foreign Policy over US foreign policy, I guess he wants everybody in Israel to forget Hebrew and speak English.

    March 15, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  8. Lizzy10

    I'm not sure the people of Puerto Rico want to be a state, but if they do, it doesn't matter one whit what the primary language is. What matters is loyalty to the USA. Santorum is loco.

    March 15, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. MichaelJ

    Has anyone else noticed the lack of clamor for statehood whenever Puerto Ricans are asked about it? It sounds as if Mr. Santorum is once again trying to stir up publicity by making comment that don't amount to anything.

    March 15, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. AntGNAHAPN

    First you invade 1898, then you torture political dissidents like Albizu Campos (who studied at Harvard), then you pay them off with food stamps while ignoring the >17% unemployment and the status as a Narco State. Now you want the people of Puerto Rico to renounce their Spanish heritage in order to become something like Hawaii? Ain't gonna happen Mr. Santorum. You and your GOP buddies don't stand a chance anyway. And by the way, it would be nice if you would at least let Puerto Ricans have voting rights in Congress. After all, they do give their lives everyday as member of the US Armed Forces.

    March 15, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  11. richard

    Santorum is doing a wonderful job splintering his party. With GOP members like Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul who needs Democrats. They just need Sarah Palin in clown make-up and we'd have a full blown circus.

    March 15, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. Robyn

    To be an American in Rick Santorum's world:

    – You must speak his chosen Language.
    – You must bow before his chosen God.
    – You must be of his chosen People.
    – You must think his chosen Thoughts.

    What a punk he is.

    March 15, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  13. klatroop

    These dudes are so far outside the main stream...they should just be running for president of the planet they are already on.

    March 15, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  14. Nick

    He does not want their votes, period. People know that they need English in certain areas of profession and survival is the key here.

    March 15, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. MsKira

    I am convinced that Rick is made of straw,,....., he should go visit the wizard and soon..,,,,, I hope that people see exactly what people are important to this man.... he is a real threat to non whites..... women......middle class, poor people.....gays..... The sad part is he claims to be a Christian ....... He might as well walk around in a white sheet....This man is dangerous and if he wins people who think like him will come out bold and confident... if you value freedom DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS MAN

    March 15, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. logan5

    English isn't even the official language here in the states. We don't have an official language. I'm all for it being English but until it is shouldn't this dummy check his blatant hypocrisy and lack of critical thought. I swear this man is frightening on so many levels!!

    March 15, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. RBestrom

    The "R" in Republican is beginning to appear to be "Racist," "anti-Religious Beliefs." "Romney" has a "faith problem" because he is Morman. Santorum is really beginning to scare me. I voted for GW before I saw how he destroyed a lot of our freedoms. Santorum could be looking for the position of dictator...not President.

    March 15, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  18. A Martinez

    For those needing an American history lesson: Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory after the Spanish American War 1898. The American Army simply invaded the island through Guanica. U.S. citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans with the Jones Act of 1917 and in 1952 Puerto Rico became a U.S. Commonwealth. All of my family is Puerto Rican, highly educated, and bilingual, bi-literate. This English-only mentality in the United States is ignorant and costly. Other industrialized countries champion being bilingual, mulitilingual because they understand the importance of connecting with other cultures and languages in this global society. Politicians need to go back to school to relearn American history and tout bilingual, bi-literacy as a valuable and necessary asset.

    March 15, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. santo rosado

    im pr born in pr raised, in ny love this country love pr but the choices to english only should be made by pr,,, because right now in united states there is no official language

    March 15, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Marshall

    Every time I think that Santorum can not come up with something dumber he comes up with something dumber. Why would anyone, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, vote for this freak. I am seriously beginning to wonder if he is deranged.

    March 15, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  21. santo rosado

    go to miami,ny,california,and many more states some are italians, some are german and so on,and i think no one will ever change it its too late for thatso lets keep it this way ALL LANGUAGE U.S.A.

    March 15, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Lone wolf

    This is the type of person the teaparty loves. Scary isn't it. The man is a nut case. Can you image how many wars we would be in iIf he was President! Forget your freedoms if he is elected.

    March 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  23. A Martinez

    Puerto Ricans are fully integrated in American society. They have fought in every American war and have paid dearly and bravely. You find Puerto Ricans in every profession in American society: medicine, health, arts, entertainment, sports, science, etc. One doesn't hear the successes because the media prefers to proliferate stereotypes of Puerto Ricans instead of celebrating this most accomplished group of people.

    March 15, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. MARK TORRES

    Wow! I was born and race in Puerto Rico. I studied in public schools IN PUERTO RICO and later graduated from the University of Puerto Rico. Served in the military for ten years. This is what I want to teach to Mr Santorum:
    1. I am glad that my sacrifice of working in the military allowed for everyones' freedom of speech, and yes, even for an out of touch with reality Republican candidate who needs a lesson or two in history and world facts.
    2. In order to graduating Elementary, Middle and High School in Puerto Rico you must demonstrate complete dominance of the English language, and unlike the educational system here in the states, in Spanish as well, making our Educational System a bit more rounded.
    3. Most of my friends in the Island, the ones that did not went to college, can speak a better and more proper English that most people I've meet while residing here in the states. Oh, and by the way, they also can be very eloquent when conversing Spanish as well.
    4. Puerto Ricans have a very rich history, with more the 500 years of multicultural heritage, reflected in our language. Did anyone made the other cultures that migrated to the United States give away everything that make them unique? Again, I believe history shows us that that was not the case, and everyone manages to get along just fine (well, maybe most everyone, I suppose I must exclude you Mr Santorum).

    Mr Santorum, as a true Patriot and supporter of the United Sates ( and yes, the fact That I served proudly to defend the American way should be more than sufficient proof) I would like to say this: ignorance is not an excuse when you are trying to be our next President. I offer you my prayers, not for your victory, but for God to forgive you and your underlined bigotry, your subtle undertones that perpetuate the divisions of humans base on race, color, gender and creed, and don't worry, as a Catholic myself I am sure , or so I hope, I pray to the same God you do. By the way, here is an interesting fact, did you knew that the biggest population of Catholics in the world, if we were to to be divided just by language, are Spanish speakers? I figure you may want to reflect on that when and if, you really do have private conversations with God.

    YOUR STUPIDITY IS FORGIVEN, BUT I PROMISE, WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN. I SAW YOUR INTERVIEW VIDEO. H.U.A. THE NEWS GOT YOUR QUOTE RIGHT, DON'T TRY TO COVER IT UP, IS TOO LATE FOR THAT!!!

    March 15, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  25. Jane

    We should be happy Rick Sanctimonious isn't planning on making High Latin the official US language after he's elected Pope, er, I mean, President. What a maroon.

    March 15, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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