ROMNEY WINS PUERTO RICO’S GOP PRIMARY

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Romney handily wins Puerto Rico‘s GOP primary

Mitt Romney heads in to Illinois’s presidential primary this week with a handy win in Puerto Rico, pocketing the territory’s 20 GOP delegates in a bruising race that has become a numbers game for the Republican nomination.

With about 83% of total ballots accounted for early Monday in Puerto Rico, Romney had garnered more than 98,000 votes — or 83% of the total — based on unofficial results obtained from local party and election officials.

Rick Santorum was a distant second, at 8% with slightly more than 9,500 votes.

The other two candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, were barely registered in the race with 2,431 votes, or 2% of the vote, and 1,452 votes, or 1%, respectively.

Even as the vote was being counted in Puerto Rico, Romney, Santorum and the other candidates were already on the mainland vying for delegates in Illinois and Louisiana.

Illinois holds its primary on Tuesday and Louisiana on Saturday.

CNN’s latest delegate estimates show Romney with 518 delegates to Santorum’s 239. Gingrich has 139 delegates, and Paul, the libertarian champion, has 69 delegates. To secure the nomination, 1,144 delegates are needed.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, was in Louisiana late Sunday, where he is expected to win the primary.

Romney was in Illinois where polls indicate he holds a small lead over Santorum, with Gingrich and Paul well behind.

Romney framed his win in Puerto Rico as the territory’s desire for a candidate that “most represents their feelings” — and especially their desire to nominate some who can bring about a stronger economy and a smaller government.

He also said his party can appeal to Latinos, and win the presidency, with a low-tax, pro-business message.

“Those people who don’t think that Latinos will vote for a Republican need to take a look in Puerto Rico,” said the former Massachusetts governor, noting that the territory’s governor and its legislative leaders are conservative.

photo AP

“Hispanic voters are going to vote for Republicans if we stand for something — conservative principles that bring growth and good jobs and rising home values. That’s how we’re going to win, and we’re going to get Latino voters to help us out.”

Romney had entered the contest in Puerto Rico as the favorite. He was largely backed by the island government’s political establishment, including Gov. Luis Fortuno, who campaigned with Romney last week.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, created a small political firestorm on the island in the days leading up to the primary when he said English should be the principal language in Puerto Rico before it could gain statehood. Puerto Rico will vote on a statehood referendum in November.

After arriving in Puerto Rico on Friday, Romney said he would have “no preconditions” on language for Puerto Rico to gain statehood, though during a CNN debate in January he said English should be the nation’s official language.

Santorum immediately hit back, accusing Romney of flip-flopping.

Romney fired back that English has been the official language of the government in Puerto Rico for more than 100 years.

The heated, see-saw allegations between the two candidates have marked much of the race for the GOP nomination, which Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called “the nastiest I’ve ever seen” during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Puerto Rico’s primary came two days before the showdown in Illinois, where 54 delegates will be awarded proportionally and polls show a tight race between Romney and Santorum.

Asked over the weekend while campaigning in Missouri about whether a win in Illinois would mean he’d win the nomination, Santorum said: “We feel very, very good about it. Let’s put it that way. Really good about it.”

Santorum also challenged Romney’s assertion that his business experience is one of his strongest credentials, telling CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union” on Sunday that, “If Gov. Romney thinks that he is the CEO of America and can run and manage the economy, he doesn’t understand what conservatives believe in.”

Romney’s campaign released an ad in Illinois on Friday, attacking Santorum for having “never run a business or a state.”

Santorum on Sunday said he had experience in the private sector as a lawyer, but argued that executive experience at a company is not necessary to be commander-in-chief.

“Running a business is not the same as being president of the United States,” he said.

Santorum also gave no indication that he has plans to drop out of the race should his campaign reach a point where the delegate math doesn’t add up in his favor.

“What I’m hearing is that we want a conservative nominee, that the establishment is trying to push a moderate like they did in 1976 against Ronald Reagan, like they did in 1996 with Bob Dole and what they did with John McCain,” Santorum said. “I think conservatives would like an opportunity to nominate a conservative, and that’s an opportunity.”

Both Santorum and Romney also focused their rhetoric at President Barack Obama, particularly with regard to rising gas prices.

Romney said Obama needed to fire Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for their role in driving up gas prices.

“Given the fact that (Obama has) changed his policies, wants lower gas prices, he needs to fire them and return to the energy policies we need,” Romney said during a town hall meeting in Collinsville, Illinois.

Santorum told a crowd in Effingham, Illinois, to remember Obama at the gas pumps.

“When you see that zero come up, when it gets to the $100 range, when you see the zero, think of ‘O’ for Obama because that’s why you are paying that extra amount of money,” Santorum said.

READ MORE: CNN NEWS

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WHY ARE REPUBLICANS VISITING PUERTO RICO?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Romney to Puerto Rico: You can still speak Spanish in my America!

PHOTO BY AP

Mitt Romney landed in Puerto Rico today ahead of the islands primary this Sunday. And unlike what Rick Santorum said Wednesday, Romney would not require Puerto Rico to meet any language requirement prior to becoming a state. When asked by reporters if Romney would require Puerto Rico to make English the territory’s official language, Romney said he had no “preconditions,” ABC News reports.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

You know a presidential primary has turned into a scramble for every last delegate when the candidates start showing up in Puerto Rico.

Politics is a boisterous pastime on this island territory, where campaigns feature festive parades and caravans of cars blaring music. Few places in the world have higher voter turnout.

So you can imagine the excitement over today’s Republican primary in Puerto Rico, which in most presidential campaigns earns at best a token visit from a candidate’s spouse or kid, but last week had Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum hitting the streets of San Juan.

With 23 Republican delegates at stake, Puerto Rico has more influence on the nomination than Hawaii or Delaware. But in the rare occasions when presidential primaries extend into a fight for every delegate, the commonwealth becomes more than a political afterthought bypassed by the major candidates. Four years ago Hillary Rodham Clinton won Puerto Rico handily after she and Obama campaigned aggressively in the territory, and Romney and Santorum made appearances last week.

“I was referred to by many in my state as Senador Puertorriqueño. They used to make fun of me. ‘Why are you representing Puerto Rico?’ ” Santorum boasted in San Juan, recounting his efforts as a U.S. senator to increase Medicare reimbursements to citizens in Puerto Rico.

His pandering was overshadowed, however, by an interview with the newspaper El Vocero in which he said he would support statehood so long as Puerto Rico made English its primary language.

The Constitution does not require any state to make English its official language, and Santorum stepped into the political mine field that defines why Puerto Ricans are sharply divided by the question of statehood: their identity. One Puerto Rican delegate pledged to Santorum promptly quit his campaign after the English language comment.

“Puerto Rico is very different from the United States, and if we became a state I worry we would lose something vital,” said Therese Santos, a university student, who like many Puerto Ricans speaks perfect English. “To say we have to speak English would be changing centuries of tradition and threaten our identity.”

That’s a common sentiment among Puerto Ricans. They say they’re proud to be Americans, but they are equally proud to wave their own flag, and field their own Olympic teams and Miss Universe contestants.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum waves at supporters following a campaign rally in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday. Ricardo Arduengo/AP

“He really bombed with that comment, but I’m glad Santorum said that because he spoke the truth,” said Evelyn Nieves, a teacher. “And I hope people will question the party leaders pushing statehood who keep telling people everything would stay the same and we would continue with our own flag, our own national anthem.”

Romney has managed to antagonize some Hispanic voters with his calls for “self-deportation” of some 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, but he treaded carefully on the language question in San Juan on Friday.

“Spanish is the language of Puerto Rico’s heritage. English is the language of opportunity,” he said at a news conference. “I would hope that young people would learn both languages, but particularly English so that as they trade throughout the country and participate in educational opportunities throughout the country that their English skills would make it even easier for them.”

In November, Puerto Ricans will hold a referendum on whether they support continuing with territorial status or moving to statehood. Congress would have to approve it, but if Puerto Rico became America’s 51st state, most observers believe that would lead to Democrats picking up seats in the U.S. House and Senate.

“If a majority of Puerto Ricans wish to become a state, then I will support that effort in Washington and I will help lead that effort in Washington,” Romney vowed Friday, flanked by pro-statehood Gov. Fortuno, and Puerto Rican and American flags.

Romney is favored to win today’s primary, but other candidates can still pick up delegates if no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

“Puerto Rico’s never mattered more in a presidential primary because every delegate matters,” said John Regis, finance chairman of the island’s Republican Party, who hopes more than 130,000 people turn out.

READ MORE: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/puerto-rico-a-force-in-florida-voting/1220638

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WHAT IS HARRY REID SAYING ABOUT HISPANICS?

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Conservative Latino leader knocks Harry Reid

photo by the Associate Press

Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush administration official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles think tank, said he was especially offended by Reid’s suggestion that Rubio was “supposedly” representing all Hispanics – and therefore should have backed Aponte from the start.

“It’s appalling for the Senate Majority Leader and Obama surrogates to question Sen. Rubio’s commitment to the Latino community, and more specifically the Puerto Rican community,” Aguilar wrote in an email. “This blatant attempt at racial identity politics is offensive and condescending to all Latinos.”

“Sen. Reid, based on Sen. Rubio’s initial opposition to the confirmation of Aponte, questions whether Senator is defending ‘Hispanic issues.’ The hypocrisy cannot be more shocking. Wasn’t Reid the man who helped lead the Democrats‘ filibuster of Bush nominee to the federal bench, Miguel Estrada, a Harvard trained and extremely experienced attorney, who was also a Honduran immigrant? Was Reid working against ‘Hispanic issues’ then?” he wrote.

Read More: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/02/conservative-latino-leader-knocks-harry-reid-114728.html

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