With the primary just a week away, the Republican gubernatorial dance around illegal immigration seems to have ended for now. The clock ticking with an intense urgency, contenders on the Republican primary ticket are now succumbing to pressure to explicitly come out against illegal immigration.
The main candidate under pressure is Meg Whitman. While media outlets noted Whitman’s flirtation with amnesty, Politico now reports her rightward shift. Countering Steve Poizner’s claims to a hawkish immigration policy, Whitman is exercising damage control regarding her own stance.
Her recent ad showcases her “anything you can do [Poizner], I can do better” talk. Pete Wilson, poster candidate for the controversial Prop 187, joins her in the ad.
Whitman figures that if she surrounds herself with the big boys, Californians will take her a bit more seriously. She knows that, to survive in the game of politics, playing defense is not enough to win the game.
Politico says that Whitman has dropped a mailer slamming Poizner as soft on illegal immigration, labeling him as a political opportunist using illegal immigration for political gain. Poizner has accused Whitman of advocating amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Her response is not a very unique one. According to Whitman, Poizner is actually the one for amnesty.
While this back and forth labeling essentially amounts to a schoolyard name calling contest, Poizner’s charge actually seems to carry some merit. According to an analysis by the San Jose Mercury News, Poizner charging amnesty against Whitman is “fair game.”
The Mercury Reports:
“After telling reporters that deporting 12 million illegal immigrants wasn't practical, Whitman asked: ‘Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization ?"
The report goes on:
"Whitman might not have realized it at the time, but the words ‘path to legalization’ are code words for what conservatives call "amnesty." She now says she was referring to a guest worker program, but the explanation has holes.”
However, Whitman’s inconsistencies seem not to affect her political viability, with her own party at least. This week, Reuters reports that Whitman is recovering her wide lead over Poizner. She has even managed to penetrate politics on the national front, gaining the endorsement of Newt Gingrich, a possible presidential contender.
While the Republican primary is about as far as Whitman is predicted to go, immigration nevertheless continues to linger in the political spotlight both at the state and national level. According to a Los Angeles Times poll on the matter, Californians are relatively split on the issue, with 50 percent in favor of the Arizona law while 43 percent are opposed.