Meg Whitman's campaign for California governor is ramping up its efforts to woo Latino voters. Whitman released a new Spanish-language ad yesterday focused on job creation. She's also run a string of recent ads with Spanish subtitles declaring her opposition to the Arizona immigration law and featuring Latino students in caps and gowns, plus ads on Spanish-language TV stations Univision and Telemundo, and has written op-eds for and done interviews with Spanish-language newspapers. This week, she opened an office in East LA, a predominantly Hispanic area, and is handing out Spanish-language versions of her policy book.
The point of all this messaging? To undo her recent proselytizing on the need to crack down on immigration. In Whitman's Republican primary, her opponent Steve Poizner painted her as soft on immigration. Targeting the more conservative primary electorate, Whitman fought back with ads featuring border fence imagery and endorsements from former California Governor Pete Wilson, famous for his hard-line approach to immigration.
Wilson built his 1994 re-election campaign on the back of Proposition 187, which aimed to block illegal immigrants' access to social services like health care and public education. He's blamed for sending California's Latino voters scurrying from the Republican Party, thereby locking in the state's enduring Democratic majority. In addition to soberly endorsing her immigration stance in primary ads, he's also acting as her campaign chairman. After winning the primary, though, Whitman broadcast her opposition to Prop. 187 and claimed that she and Wilson differ on this topic.