(Image Source: Business Insider and The New York Times)

BY ZACH TOOMBS

A week spent in Puerto Rico ahead of its Sunday primary has been anything but a tropical getaway for the GOP presidential candidates. Although their campaign stops were met with enthusiasm, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum find themselves on the defense in the bilingual territory over their endorsement of English as the nation’s official language.

 

Both candidates have taken their own campaigning styles to the island territory. Politico says a Romney event Friday featured fireworks, glitter explosions and street vendors.

 

Meanwhile, Santorum stopped by an evangelical church and a school for Children with Down’s syndrome while walking the streets of San Juan.

 

Despite some successful retail politicking, both candidates are raising eyebrows with their comments on Puerto Rico’s bilingual status. The trouble for Santorum started Wednesday when San Juan’s El Vocero asked him if Puerto Rico — which votes on becoming the Union’s 51st state in November — should adopt English as its official language as a precursor to statehood.

 

“They have to speak English. That would be a requirement. That’s a requirement we put on other states as a condition for entering the Union.”

 

In response, the Los Angeles Times writes...

 

“The statement raised red flags for two reasons: It offended some Puerto Ricans, including a delegate who withdrew his support for Santorum. And it incorrectly suggested that under federal law there is an English-language requirement for new states.”

 

Despite the lack of a federal language law, 41 states have made English their official language. On Friday, Santorum stood by his comments about Puerto Rico, telling CNN:

 

“Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking, but it needs to have — in order to fully integrate into American society — English has to be a language that is spoken here also and is spoken universally.”

 

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño told Politico he would have handled the Spanish language issue ‘quite differently’ than Santorum. But Romney — the candidate Fortuño has endorsed — is also facing heat for comments he made on the language question.

 

Romney has long been in favor of establishing an official national language. In 2007, the English First Political Victory Fund endorsed Romney, calling him “a veritable Rock of Gibraltar on official English.”

 

And in January of this year, he said this:

 

“Look, English is the language of this nation. People need to learn English to be able to be successful and to get great jobs.”

 

Although he’s championed English as the official language in the past, Romney promised Puerto Ricans this week he would not support implementing an official language as a condition for the island’s statehood. And The Huffington Post calls him out on it.

 

“The Mitt Romney of 2008 believed that English should be the official language of the United States. But when the Mitt Romney of 2012 traveled to Puerto Rico in search of delegates, he left that position back on the main land.”

 

Twenty delegates are up for grabs in Puerto Rico’s Sunday primary. In the 2008 Republican caucus, John McCain won with 90 percent of the vote in a race that saw little attention from the candidates or national media.

In Puerto Rico, Candidates on Defense Over Language Comments

by Zach Toombs
0
Transcript
Mar 17, 2012

In Puerto Rico, Candidates on Defense Over Language Comments

(Image Source: Business Insider and The New York Times)

BY ZACH TOOMBS

A week spent in Puerto Rico ahead of its Sunday primary has been anything but a tropical getaway for the GOP presidential candidates. Although their campaign stops were met with enthusiasm, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum find themselves on the defense in the bilingual territory over their endorsement of English as the nation’s official language.

 

Both candidates have taken their own campaigning styles to the island territory. Politico says a Romney event Friday featured fireworks, glitter explosions and street vendors.

 

Meanwhile, Santorum stopped by an evangelical church and a school for Children with Down’s syndrome while walking the streets of San Juan.

 

Despite some successful retail politicking, both candidates are raising eyebrows with their comments on Puerto Rico’s bilingual status. The trouble for Santorum started Wednesday when San Juan’s El Vocero asked him if Puerto Rico — which votes on becoming the Union’s 51st state in November — should adopt English as its official language as a precursor to statehood.

 

“They have to speak English. That would be a requirement. That’s a requirement we put on other states as a condition for entering the Union.”

 

In response, the Los Angeles Times writes...

 

“The statement raised red flags for two reasons: It offended some Puerto Ricans, including a delegate who withdrew his support for Santorum. And it incorrectly suggested that under federal law there is an English-language requirement for new states.”

 

Despite the lack of a federal language law, 41 states have made English their official language. On Friday, Santorum stood by his comments about Puerto Rico, telling CNN:

 

“Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking, but it needs to have — in order to fully integrate into American society — English has to be a language that is spoken here also and is spoken universally.”

 

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño told Politico he would have handled the Spanish language issue ‘quite differently’ than Santorum. But Romney — the candidate Fortuño has endorsed — is also facing heat for comments he made on the language question.

 

Romney has long been in favor of establishing an official national language. In 2007, the English First Political Victory Fund endorsed Romney, calling him “a veritable Rock of Gibraltar on official English.”

 

And in January of this year, he said this:

 

“Look, English is the language of this nation. People need to learn English to be able to be successful and to get great jobs.”

 

Although he’s championed English as the official language in the past, Romney promised Puerto Ricans this week he would not support implementing an official language as a condition for the island’s statehood. And The Huffington Post calls him out on it.

 

“The Mitt Romney of 2008 believed that English should be the official language of the United States. But when the Mitt Romney of 2012 traveled to Puerto Rico in search of delegates, he left that position back on the main land.”

 

Twenty delegates are up for grabs in Puerto Rico’s Sunday primary. In the 2008 Republican caucus, John McCain won with 90 percent of the vote in a race that saw little attention from the candidates or national media.

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