Former Sen. Rick Santorum is giving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a run for his money politically — and also as a foot-in-mouth news media’s dream gaffe machine. During this campaign Romney and Santorum have spoken in a way that makes Vice President Joe Biden seem utterly measured in his all of his comments. And Santorum’s latest is a classic: he suggested in Puerto Rico (while in Puerto Rico seeking the 20 delegates in Puerto Rico’s Sunday primary) that if Puerto Rico wants to become a state it would have to be an English only state, supposedly because it’s a requirement.

And today his staffers are scrambling to do damage control since their candidate was in Puerto Rico campaiging for in the GOP Presidential primary there:

The campaign of Rick Santorum was still dealing on Friday with fallout from the Republican candidate’s comments on Puerto Rican statehood, asserting that he never meant to say residents should be required to speak English before their island territory can become a state.

Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley told CNN’s Early Start Santorum did not mean that speaking English should be a prerequisite for statehood, rather he was emphasizing the importance of English as the “language of opportunity.”

“I think he was speaking in broader context that it would be important for the people of Puerto Rico to speak English so they could have more opportunities in America,” Gidley said. “He’s a grandson of an immigrant and his parents and grandparents spoke Italian, but they had to learn English … the language that would make them prosper.”

When an aide has to say “I think” and translate his candidate’s comments it a)is not a good sign b)is a sign of spin damage control.

It certainly doesn’t sound as if that is what Santorum meant:

But campaigning in Puerto Rico Wednesday, Santorum spoke out in favor of statehood for the U.S. territory, with the proviso that Puerto Ricans should adopt English as their official language. Then on Thursday, Santorum repeated that statement after Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in Congress, Democrat Pedro Pierluisi, called Santorum’s comments “narrow and limiting.” Another supporter, Oreste Ramos, withdrew as a Santorum delegate.

In other words, there was immediate political fall out.

The Politico:

Rick Santorum’s spokesman tried to clarify his candidate’s recent comment that seemed to suggest Puerto Rico must adopt English as its official language, but himself stumbled in an interview Friday as he responded at one point, “I’m not sure of the law. So I can’t really speak to that.”

Earlier this week, Santorum told a San Juan newspaper that English has to be the island’s “main language” in order for Puerto Rico to become a state. After the comments drew attention and criticism, the former Pennsylvania senator suggested that the remarks were “maliciously” misconstrued, saying he meant that English should be a common language for all Americans.

n an appearance on CNN Friday, spokesman Hogan Gidley noted that Santorum was trying to convey the important role the English language plays in providing Americans opportunities to succeed in the United States.

“Most candidates have all been in agreement that, in fact, English should be the official language of this country,” Gidley said. “I don’t think that’s really a surprise or shock to anybody. The point that he was trying to make was, of course Puerto Ricans are going to speak Spanish. I mean, that’s their native tongue, that’s fine.”

And according to Gidley, Santorum’s attempt to point out that English is spoken predominantly in the U.S. was misconstrued by the press.

It’s important that Gidley and Santorum pointed that out.

Who would have ever known that English is spoken predominantly in the United States?

Voters might miss that fact. Of course, if voters already knew that, then that would suggest that isn’t what Santorum was trying to do at all, or why he repeated his comment twice (and lost a supporter). MORE:

“I think it’s a little bit overblown — I know the original comments were not only taken out of context but were actually misquoted and, in fact, he called that reporter out in the press conference subsequent to that first story and the reporter refused to change their question,” he said. “So it’s just part of the dance, part of what we do here.”

But Gidley ran into some trouble when host of “Early Start” Ashleigh Banfield asked for an explanation on what Santorum meant when he said that people in Puerto Rico have been denied economic opportunities because the government has not emphasized the importance of English enough, noting that he believed this to be “required under the law.”

What does all of this it mean? It shows that:

–this is not pretty.

–it will hurt Santorum in Puerto Rico if not finish him.

–Santorum has not learned from his bad experience with past utterances which obliterated his surge and in the end may have cost him the Republican nomination. When a candidate doesn’t show a learning curve, it suggests that he/she could be a dangerous investment for a political party that would have to put millions of dollars in the line for the candidate’s election. Santorum keeps shooting himself in the foot and then sticking his foot in his mouth.

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • Rcoutme

    Maybe it is unkind of me, but I take Santorum at his original word. He probably honestly believes that the only thing holding PR back from becoming a state is that many of the residents speak Spanish as their primary language. He may not even care that such is the case of lots and lots of voters (in states, thus able to affect the presidential elections).

  • RP

    If it were not for the fact that no one could write something as bad as the nominating process is becoming, I would think this is a bad hollywood movie.

    Cheezy Grits is one thing, but telling an hispanic territory that they have to speak engish is something else.

  • slamfu

    Obama is so gonna clobber this neanderthal in the general if he wins the nomination. Altho in a way Santorum’s refusal, or inability, to pander is somewhat refreshing.

  • roro80

    I don’t even think this is the stupidest thing he’s said in the last few days. Maybe the most insensitive, but not the stupidest. At least “all you PRs should speak-ah da inglesh” is an opinion. It’s a stupid, insensitive opinion that rests on a racist false notion that Enlish is our official language, or should be, but an opinion nonetheless.

    It is my personal opinion that he’s much, much dumber when he tries to talk facts. For example, the most ridiculous thing he’s said this week, in my opinion, is the following: “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is”. SCIENCE!

  • Rcoutme
  • Rcoutme

    Roro: you don’t understand! Plants have proven that they can outthink and outwit Santorum–so he venerates them. Anything good for them must be good for the environment he wants. Right?