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2012: Santorum to Puerto Rico - speak English if you want statehood

GINGRICH: I thought we’d get to see forever… “It's hard to say goodbye in presidential politics,” the AP writes. “Newt Gingrich's campaign pinned his future on two Deep South victories, which never materialized. Yet the former House speaker is pressing on despite a path to victory that seems more improbable by the day.”

The New York Post: “The Republican White House derby now appears to be a two-man race — but Newt Gingrich doesn’t seem to notice.”

ROMNEY: Romney was pressed again on health care on FOX. The interview, which also covered some of his gaffes related to wealth, “clearly set Mitt on edge,” GOP 12 writes.

The Chicago Tribune: “As the Republican presidential contest moves to Illinois, Mitt Romney finds his campaign parked squarely at the corner of perception and reality. … Underscoring the importance of Tuesday's Illinois primary, where 54 delegates are at stake, Romney has moved up plans to campaign here, making his first visit Friday instead of waiting until Monday. With Illinois, Romney again faces a critical battle in a state that once seemed assuredly his.”

Speaking of Illinois, did a Romney backer help out Santorum in the state? Buzzfeed: “Mitt Romney could have assured himself victory months in advance in the now-crucial primary state of Illinois, but instead his Illinois campaign operation chose to allow Rick Santorum's delegates to remain on the ballot despite a failure to meet signature requirements. Santorum, who has also failed to reach the ballot in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and parts of Ohio, fell short of the required signatures in 10 of the state's 18 congressional districts —and didn't submit any in four of them — Romney's campaign confirmed. But Illinois Treasurer and Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford withdrew challenges in those districts, allowing Santorum the opportunity to win 30 delegates he would have missed out on.

The Washington Post looks at how the Seamus story still dogs Romney.

Debates? Count him out. “The organizers of a March 19 presidential debate in Portland, Ore., say they will decide Thursday whether to go ahead with the debate, even without former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney,” the Boston Globe writes. “The debate, which was sanctioned by the Republican National Committee, is being organized by the Oregon Republican Party and produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Washington Times. Romney told organizers on Monday that he will not participate. Instead, his campaign said he will be in Illinois in advance of that state’s March 20 primary.”

“Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney pivoted from talking up cheesy grits and catfish in Dixie to appearing at a sumptuous, fat-cat, four-star luncheon at the opulent Waldorf-Astoria in Midtown yesterday,” the New York Post writes, adding, “Romney was in his element yesterday among well-heeled financiers, and he expected to haul in $3 million at more fund-raisers around town.”

SANTORUM: Santorum said if Puerto Rico wants to be a state, it needs to speak English: "As in any other state, you have to comply with this and any federal law - and that is that English has to be the main language,” Santorum told San Juan newspaper El Vocero, per AP. “There are other states with more than one language as is the case in Hawaii, but to be a state in the United States, English has to be the main language." (Video here.)

And: “It’s important that people of the island are given the gift of English is the language of success in the United States. It is the language of commerce in the largest economy in the world and we are not doing anybody on this island a favor by not following the law, which is that this is a society that will speak English in addition to speaking Spanish. I understand some people see this as a barrier, I see this as an opportunity. … There needs to be proficiency in English, not just a knowledge of English, but proficiency.”

He also talked about how his daughter is in Hawaii and talks to him in Hawaiian. And he derides Quebec for not integrating into the rest of Canada.

More: “I don’t see this as a threat to the culture of the island, I see this as a necessary and important step to confirm your commitment to fully integrate into America and American society as a state and a tremendous opportunity for a people here on the island who in my opinion have been denied a lot of economic opportunities because the government has not emphasized the importance of English that is my understanding required under the law in the first place.”

Reuters: “Santorum to Puerto Rico: Speak English if you want statehood.” And it fact checks Santorum on this: “[T]he 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. Congress would have to give approval if Puerto Rico is to become the 51st state. Although Congress has considered numerous proposals to make English the official U.S. language, none has ever passed. However, some states have passed their own laws declaring English the official language, including heavily Hispanic Florida.”

And: “Santorum's statement may fall flat with Puerto Rican Republicans, who have always argued that issues of language and culture should be controlled by state governments and not the federal government. It also could alienate the 4.2 million Puerto Ricans who live on the U.S. mainland, including nearly 1 million in presidential swing-state Florida.”

Santorum leads Romney in Texas, 35%-27%, with Gingrich at 20%, Paul – the native Texan - 8%, according to a Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research poll (conducted via live telephone caller).