| Meg Whitman has famously spent $100 million so far on her vanity campaign for governor - and some of that has gone to Spanish-language ads she hopes can win over some of the all-important Latino electorate.
In doing so, Whitman has encountered two fundamental problems that question this strategy:
1. Latinos don't believe her when she says she's not out to take away their rights and their jobs
2. Her own right-wing base only accepts Latino-bashing as an electoral strategy, and will not support any kind of positive outreach to a Latino community they hate.
And these problems came to hit her with full force yesterday in LA.
First, Whitman was rattled by protestors when she opened a campaign office in East Los Angeles:
Chanting "Meg, you're fake!" "Get out!" "Education, not deportation," about 100 people, mobilized by labor unions, protested Republican Meg Whitman's opening of an East Los Angeles campaign office. They said her tough stance on illegal immigration makes her anti-Latino.
As the LA Times reported, the protests threw Whitman off her game:
The interruption was unusual for a Whitman campaign event; her appearances are usually highly scripted and tightly controlled. The candidate seemed rattled, occasionally stumbled over her words and kept her remarks short.
She hit two of her usual talking points, job creation and fixing California's schools, but did not mention the third plank of her platform: cutting government spending.
Whitman's bad day (her 54th birthday) was only just getting started. She then went into the studios of KFI right-wing immigrant bashers John & Ken, who have been calling Whitman "NutMeg" over her Latino outreach. The interview saw Whitman directly contradict her Latino outreach statements, as Think Progress explains:
To begin with, the hosts pointed out that Whitman has over 30 billboards in Latino-heavy areas of the state proclaiming "No to Proposition 187 and no to SB-1070" in Spanish. However, as Wonk Room reported last week, Whitman recently told a California English-language radio station that the "Arizona [immigration] law should stand for Arizona" and that she opposes implementing SB-1070 in California simply because the state is bigger. Whitman reiterated yesterday that the federal government shouldn't be telling Arizona what to do.
So which is it? Does Whitman support SB 1070 or not? Should the federal government uphold the US Constitution or hold it in abeyance so that a bunch of bigots in Arizona can terrorize Latinos?
Wilting under the pressure, Whitman then explained that she really does support immigrant-bashing, in the form of mass deportations:
HOST: You are not for a path to citizenship?
HOST: Well, that's not what you say here. That's not what it says in your Spanish editorial. [Silence] [...] No illegal alien is going to get any kind of citizenship unless they leave the country and apply through the process, is that true?
So Whitman believes that the undocumented should either remain undocumented, or leave the country entirely. Sure, she says there would be some "application through the process," but that's not going to enable all those that are currently undocumented to come back to California. Which is of course the entire point - it's the softer version of what the right-wing really wants, which is to repeat what was done in the 1930s when millions of Latinos were put on trains and sent to Mexico, including many who were US citizens born in California.
Later in the interview, John & Ken denounced Whitman for using Spanish-language billboards, as part of their absurd "English-only" campaign.
Whitman is stuck in an untenable position. She realizes she can't win the governor's race without reaching out to Latinos, but her right-wing base hates those same Latinos and will not allow her to do that outreach.
And of course, Whitman herself has right-wing views on what should be done not only on immigration, but on the other issues that impact Latino voters, such as jobs and schools.
Whitman wants to have it both ways, but she can't use Spanish-language ads and an office in East LA to hide the fact that she and her right-wing base remain implacably hostile to the aspirations, hopes, and dreams of California's Latino residents.