Fortuño Meets With Santorum (Sorry, Mitt!) and Santorum Says English Is Required for Entry as 51st State

The GOP presidential race just got even weirder the last two days, and Puerto Rico is right at the center of it. With a GOP primary scheduled for Sunday March 18 in Puerto Rico—a US territory (most say colony) since 1898 and a place where its residents have been US citizens since 1917—the quest for delegates among Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum has truly reached the bizarre. First, the irony that Puerto Ricans vote in presidential primaries but cannot vote in national presidential elections is classic in itself.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Add to the fact that the GOP's quest to "capture the US Latino vote" (right now they will be lucky to take 15% of this demographic) and that Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño, a potential VP candidate for the GOP, has become a pervese symbol of political opportunism during his re-election bid as governor, and as they say, you can't make this up any more. You really can't.

Here are two stories that just defy logic to us. Example one: Hey, don't worrry about endorsing someone, if they are losing, just move on to the next guy and forget the guy you endorsed. That is basically what Fortuño has done today, after meeting with Santorum at La Fortaleza in San Juan (press access was limited, according to reports). Just last month, Fortuño was seen proudly endorsing Romney during the heat of the GOP Florida primary. It was seen by pundits as a clear move by Romney to recoginize the Other Latino Caribbean Politician Not Named Rubio. However, today in San Juan, Fortuño met with Santorum. Hedging your bets for political opprtunism?

This is what was reported:

  • Santorum assured that he would support statehood for Puerto Rico if the Puerto Rican people chose that option in November’s plebiscite and he is elected President. ”It is the responsibility of a U.S. President to hear the voice of all Americans, including the territories,” Santorum said. ”Puerto Rico is a very important part of the United States and I will take the responsibility to represent all Americans.”
  • Santorum also talked about how he is good friends with Fortuño, since they both attended the same church in the Washington DC area. Santorum said that he was a key player in bringing Medicare to the island and that he has a good relationship with the current Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi (a Democrat) as well as Pedro Roselló, an ex-governor of Puerto Rico and a pro-statehooder.
  • When he was questioned about Fortuño’s endorsement of Romney, Santorum said that said many other governor have done the same. Santorum will visit several churches on the island and also meet with other pro-statehood leaders, including Jennifer González and Thomas Rivera Schatz.

Looks like Santorum is here to state his case of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the Union, and in case you want to know, you can read our Enlgish translation of an interview he gave with EL VOCERO before meeting with Fortuño:

EL VOCERO: What is your position on the status of Puerto Rico?

Rick Santorum: "I always had the same position.Puerto Rico should have the right to choose and we must work together to make this possible and determine what kind of relationship we want to develop. We have worked extensively with the Government of Puerto Rico and have made many efforts to help with important issues.We have an interest in Puerto Rico and I support their right to choose. "

EV: Would you back a state where Spanish is spoken as a first language?

RS: "As in any other state, it must comply with this and any federal law.Other states recognize more than one language as in the case of Hawaii, but to become a U.S. state, English should be the primary language. "

EV: What are your plans for your visit to Puerto Rico?

RS: "To meet with as many people as possible, collect information, and understand the needs of Puerto Rico. This is very important for me to understand the particular issues they have. Puerto Rico has a resident commissioner, or whatever you call the post, but no representation or votes in the Senate. It is the responsibility of the executive branch to address those problems.'

EV: What would your position be on abortion for family planning programs receiving federal funds currently operating in Puerto Rico?

RS: "I do not support that organizations like Planned Parenthood receive federal money. I believe that services should be available, but I do not think that should be federally funded. That is the position that I have and I will keep. "

EV: The federal government is partly responsible for two issues affecting Puerto Rico, which is the economy and crime. What is your proposal on these issues for Puerto Rico?

RS: "One thing I understand is that drugs and drug trafficking are serious problems and I am committed to working with Governor Fortuño to ensure that the resources needed, reach the island."

EV: Governor Luis Fortuño supports Romney as a candidate. Will you meet him [Fortuño]? 

RS: "I've known him for years, I know his wife and children because we were together at the church when he was in Washington. I understand that Romney made a commitment early in the campaign and no problem with that. We talked and we remain friends. "

EV: Would back that Puerto Ricans could elect the President of the United States (the presidential vote)?

RS: I have discussed options and I think that an idea is to participate in the primary and open vote, to participate in the popular vote, but not in the polls. That's not something I would support. "

EV: How do they justify allowing Puerto Ricans to participate in the primaries and not choose the President?

RS: "That's a party rule, not a rule of government. I support the party that allows people to participate. "

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