In Puerto Rico, ahead of the commonwealth's Republican primary, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum continued to reveal a very real lack of understanding of both the Hispanic community and the demographic changes our country is undergoing.Romney has done this by trashing a beloved icon and Santorum has done so by insulting the cultural heritage of the fiercely proud Puerto Rican people. While these two candidates may think that their latest charm offensive will win them the 20 at large delegates on the island, it is unclear if either candidate has stopped to consider that the majority of Puerto Ricans actually live in the United States, and in the general election their comments could come back to haunt them.
The significance of the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor cannot be overstated. As the first Latina Justice she is a highly cherished figure in the Hispanic community and the fact that she is of Puerto Rican descent makes her all the more beloved on the island of enchantment. Mitt Romney, who up until this point had never publically stated his opposition to her confirmation as a Justice, decided to wait until he was physically in Puerto Rico to go on the radio and blast her as an "activist liberal jurist." The audio of the interview can be heard in full at Politics365, is significant because of how wrong he is in his assessment of Justice Sotomayor's judicial record. Members of his own party do not believe that to be true, just ask Senator Lindsay Graham. During Justice Sotomayor's confirmation hearing he noted that she was not in fact an activist judge, and was in his eyes more then an acceptable addition to the Supreme Court Justice.
Rick Santorum on the other hand has long held views on making English the official language of the United States. What is shocking about his recent volley into the culture wars is just how out of touch with reality his statements are. On a Spanish language radio show, he was asked if he was President would he would accept the admission of a state whose main language was Spanish. To which he said "as in any other state, (Puerto Rico) should comply with this and every other federal law -- and that is that English must be the main language." He then went on a Puerto Rican television show and again stated that English would be required as the primary language in order to comply with federal law. Unfortunately for Santorum there is no federal law which requires states to make English their official language.
There is something to be said about having the courage of your convictions, and in a primary battle to the death, it does make some sense for both candidates to try to prove their conservative mettle. The reality here is not just that Justice Sotomayor is not an activist judge; it is the fact that Romney has now publicly stated that on false pretenses he would not have voted for her to be added to the Supreme Court. Furthermore it is not a federal law that states make English the official language of their municipalities. While these statements may seem like good politics now, with the general election around the corner all this is doing is motivating Puerto Rican voters state side to vote against the Republican Party. And yes, just in case the Republican candidates were unaware, main land Puerto Ricans can vote in a general election.