Santorum Attacks Romney Over Puerto Rico Language Battle

Monday, 19 Mar 2012 10:00 AM

By Martin Gould

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Presidential candidate Rick Santorum took a sideswipe at Mitt Romney saying he will “do and say anything to get votes” as he congratulated his main rival for his crushing victory in the Puerto Rico primaries.

Romney won 83 percent of the vote, and all 20 of the Caribbean territory’s delegates in Sunday’s vote. He received more than 10 times the number of votes of second-placed Santorum. Many observers put that down to the former senator’s comments that English should become the island’s primary language if it wants statehood.

Soon afterward Romney said there was no need for change on the island, where both English and Spanish are recognized but where more than 90 percent of residents speak Spanish as their first language.

Santorum used that statement to attack the former Massachusetts governor in a scathing e-mail titled “Santorum congratulates Romney on Puerto Rico victory.”

"Rick Santorum has a consistent core – and he showed that when he went to Puerto Rico and took a locally unpopular but principled stance about English being the official language of America,” his communications director Hogan Gidley wrote.

“Mitt Romney on the other hand, switched another one of his positions to gain favor in Puerto Rico, by saying that Puerto Ricans shouldn't have to learn English if they want to become a state.

“We all know Mitt Romney will do and say anything to get votes, and this is just another example of that," added Gidley.

A local newspaper last week quoted Santorum as saying, “English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language." There is no such requirement in either the Constitution or federal law and Santorum later claimed he was misquoted in part.

The Romney camp gave as good as it got as it looks toward Tuesday’s primary in Illinois. "Sen. Santorum is lashing out at Mitt Romney because voters know we won't get the economy going again by replacing one president with no job creation experience with another with no job creation experience," his press secretary Andrea Saul told CNN.

"Sen. Santorum doesn't understand how the economy works and also doesn't understand that English has been an official language of Puerto Rico for over 100 years."

Puerto Rico will hold a referendum in November on its status with voters being asked to choose between remaining a territory, U.S. statehood or full independence.



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