By Adele Hampton - 01/27/12 08:27 PM EST
“I just said what I believe and if you don't like it, I'm sorry we disagree," Gingrich said to rousing applause. “I believe the people of Puerto Rico should make the decision. It’s not my place to lecture Puerto Ricans.”
A woman clutching a Puerto Rican flag interrupted the GOP presidential candidate as he spoke in support of a referendum of statehood for the island. Firing at Gingrich with statistics about the role of Puerto Ricans in American society, the woman demanded a straightforward answer from the former Speaker of the House on whether he thought Puerto Rico should be a state.
“The question is very simple, you want our vote? Yes or no,” the woman asked. “I don’t want you or any other candidate, like [President] Obama did, to make the decision. We will be going to referendum. The question is, do you believe that Puerto Rico should be a state or not? Simple.”
Gingrich — who has built his campaign around his ability to throw down the gauntlet during debates — shot back at the woman.
“What I’m telling you is, if the people of Puerto Rico make the decision they want to be a state, I will work actively to help them negotiate the process of succession to the United States,” Gingrich said. “But the people of Puerto Rico got to decide their future.”