Campaigning in Puerto Rico, Rick Santorum doesn't show any signs that he wants to pander Wednesday, telling voters (erroneously) that they must declare English their only official language to achieve statehood.

You'd think Santorum would want to butter up Puerto Ricans a bit more deftly, given the fact that Mitt Romney's victories in American Samoa and Hawaii last night actually won him more delegates than Santorum grabbed with his Alabama and Mississippi wins. Yet according to Reuters, Santorum told El Vocero, a local newspaper, "Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law ... And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language."

As Reuters helpfully points out, there actually isn't a federal law mandating English as the national language, though some states have chosen to pass one themselves. Putting aside the fact that Santorum made a mistake, he also seems rather unstrategic in a territory in which both English and Spanish are listed as official languages and where people are pretty attached to their Spanish-speaking heritage. Meanwhile, Romney, who's probably very aware the the territory has 20 delegates he can use for his growing lead, had a line we think Puerto Ricans will like a bit more, saying simply that he'd help them if they chose to pursue statehood. Santorum's "English as the national language" issue probably wasn't intended for Puerto Rican newspaper readers though, as it tends to play well among the more culturally conservative voters he's reaching for these days. It may have seemed like a gaffe, but maybe it was a strategic one -- or maybe he's already thinking ahead to the general election.