Puerto Rican Rick? Santorum Claims His Nickname in the Senate Was ‘Senador Puertorriqueño’

most-puerto-rican-man-alive-300x199.jpgNow all of a sudden everyone is Latino. First Mitt Romney touted his Mexican father. Now Santorum claim's he was dubbed "Senador Puertorriqueño."

(Flickr: gageskidmore)

via Huffington Post


Rick Santorum is making a splash down in Puerto Rico ahead of the island's Sunday GOP primary.

On Wednesday he told Puerto Ricans that they should make English their primary language if they want statehood, and that evening he said that Pennsylvanians called him "Senador Puertorriqueño" while he was a U.S. senator. Politico has excerpts from a town hall in San Juan.

"I was referred to by many in my state as Senador Puertorriqueño," he said. "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."

On Wednesday Santorum also met with Puerto Rico's governor, Luis Fortuno, who has endorsed Romney, and sat down for an interview with El Vocero newspaper. Puerto Ricans will vote in November on whether to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth, and Santorum told the paper that they could no longer recognize both English and Spanish as their official languages if they want to become a state. Reuters reports:

"We need to work together and determine what type of relationship we want to develop," he told the newspaper.

But Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language.

"Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law," Santorum said. "And that is that 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."

However, the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language, nor is there a requirement that a territory adopt English as its primary language in order to become a state.


Puerto Rico's only member of Congress, Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D), responded to Santorum's remarks Thursday on CNN.

"It's incorrect to say that there's a federal law imposing English as the only official language in our states," he said. "The Constitution doesn't provide anything along those lines either. And in Puerto Rico, as a matter of fact, we have two official languages, English and Spanish. Santorum's view is narrow and limiting view of what America is all about."

20 delegates are at stake in Puerto Rico's March 18 primary.

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