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Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Gingrich apologizes to Latinos for 'language of the ghetto' comments

Gingrich said Wednesday his 'word choice was poor.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Days after comparing bilingual education to speaking the "language of the ghetto," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich issued an apology to the Latino community.

"My word choice was poor but my point was simply this: In the United States it is important to speak the English language well in order to advance and have success," Gingrich said in English and Spanish in a video on YouTube. "And to further this goal we should replace bilingual education programs with intensive English instruction so we can all know the common language of our country."

The Georgia Republican has been a major proponent of making English the official language of the United States.

"It was not my intention to offend the Latino community and I hope you accept this message in the manner in which it is being conveyed, with a sincere heart," he said. "I hope we find the way to cultivate a good relationship with the Latino people in the United States and together build a continent of hope and prosperity."

In a speech Saturday, Gingrich angered the Latino community by criticizing bilingual education and mocking requirements that called for ballots to be printed in multiple languages.

"We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English, so people learn the common language of the country, and so they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in the ghetto," Gingrich said.

Gingrich also said he and the president of his organization are learning to speak Spanish.

-- CNN's Lauren Kornreich
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