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Gingrich lambastes bilingual education

Calls it 'language' found 'in a ghetto'

Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, is to announce his candidacy for the US presidency in Iowa tomorrow. (Jim Cole/associated press)

WASHINGTON -- Former House speaker Newt Gingrich equated bilingual education yesterday with "the language of living in a ghetto" and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages.

"The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote, Gingrich said in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women.

"The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. . . . We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto," Gingrich, who is considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination next year, said to cheers from the crowd of more than 100.

"Citizenship requires passing a test on American history in English. If that's true, then we do not have to create ballots in any language except English," he said.

Peter Zamora, co chairman of the Washington-based Hispanic Education Coalition, which supports bilingual education, said, "The tone of his comments was very hateful. "

He said research has shown "that bilingual education is the best method of teaching English to non-English speakers."

Spanish-speakers, Zamora said, know they need to learn English. "There's no resistance to learning English, really, among immigrants, among native-born citizens. Everyone wants to learn English because it's what you need to thrive in this country."

In the past, Gingrich has supported making English the nation's official language. He has also said all American children should learn English and that other languages should be secondary in schools.

In 1995, for example, he said that bilingualism poses "long - term dangers to the fabric of our nation" and that "allowing bilingualism to continue to grow is very dangerous."

Bilingual programs teach students reading, arithmetic, and other basic skills in their native language, so they do not fall behind while mastering English.

On voting, federal law requires districts with large populations of non-English speakers to print ballots in multiple languages.

Tancredo to launch '08 run

Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican from Colorado and an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, will announce his bid for president tomorrow.

Tancredo will kick off his campaign with an announcement in Iowa, where political caucuses start the presidential nominating season, an official close to the representative said.

Tancredo has flirted with a presidential bid for more than a year and began raising money for the effort in January. After taking in more than $1 million in two months, he has decided to make his run official, said the official, who asked not to be named ahead of Tancredo's official announcement.

The representative is scheduled to appear on a Des Moines radio show tomorrow. Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa would say only that Tancredo will announce his intentions and that his decision whether to run for president won't affect whether he will run again for his House seat.

The five-term House member, who represents the Denver suburbs, is a leading supporter of securing the nation's southern border with Mexico and cracking down on illegal immigration. He has used the issue to take on President Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain, a leading contender for the GOP nomination.

Tancredo acknowledges that he is a long shot for president, but he has made no secret that he hopes to rattle McCain's campaign in Iowa by appealing to conservatives on immigration, abortion and other issues.

Early primary urged
Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore believes the Florida primary should be moved up though the outcome of such a change is uncertain.

"There is no reason why the national primaries should be decided on one day by states outside of the South," the former Virginia governor said Friday in Palm Beach, after addressing the Club for Growth conference.

"I don't think it would help candidates."

The Florida House passed a bill last month to set the primary date seven days after New Hampshire, tentatively set for Jan. 22, or Feb. 5, whichever is sooner. The state Senate, however, hasn't decided what date they should put in a similar bill that's stalled in committee.

California, New York, and other states are moving up their primaries.

"We don't actually know what the result will be of all the big states moving their primaries up," Gilmore said. "The simple idea is maybe the richest candidate wins."