Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is seeking to play up his ties with the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as it allocates 20 delegates in Sunday’s primary.
“I was referred to by many in my state as Senador Puertorriqueño,” the former Pennsylvania senator said at a town hall meeting in San Juan Wednesday, Politico
reports. “They used to make fun of me, ‘Why are you representing Puerto Rico?’ Well, someone has to because they don’t have a voice. I felt a responsibility to the island,” Santorum said.
"Senador Puertorriqueño" is the Spanish phrase for a native of Puerto Rico.
Santorum met in San Juan with Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno, who endorsed Mitt Romney before Florida’s Jan. 31 primary. Santorum’s aides suggested the two politicians share a tight bond, largely due to their Catholic faith. Santorum himself said Fortuno’s endorsement of Romney wouldn’t hurt his performance in Puerto Rico's primary.
He and Fortuno have been “friends for many, many years” and “worked together on several issues,” particularly Medicare reform, Santorum said.
To be sure, some Puerto Ricans may be turned off by remarks Santorum made in an interview with El Vocero newspaper. Santorum said Puerto Ricans must make English their primary language if they want to become a U.S. state. Currently both English and Spanish are official languages.
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