Yesterday, Southern California conservative radio hosts John and Ken grilled gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R-CA) on the two conflicting messages she is sending to voters on immigration in English and in Spanish. 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:
HOST: “The Arizona law should stand for Arizona,” but in the Spanish commercial you said that you oppose the Arizona law. Which is it?
WHITMAN: I oppose the Arizona law — have from the beginning. […]
HOST: Why wouldn’t the Arizona law work because we have bigger geography? […] It’s the opposite of what you said in the Spanish language commercial. You said clearly no on the Arizona law and you said clearly in English that you were fine with the Arizona law in Arizona.
WHITMAN: That’s not true. What I said is states’ rights have to preside here and that I didn’t think it was right for the federal government to be telling Arizona what to do. […]
After probing Whitman on her confusing stance on SB-1070 John and Ken pursued the conflicting positions she’s presented in English and Spanish on a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. When Whitman was running against Republican Steve Poizner in a tough primary, she repeatedly described a path to legalization as “amnesty.” However, in a Spanish-language editorial, she indicated that she and her opponent, Jerry Brown (D), share an almost identical immigration platform and that both oppose granting a path to legalization without requiring undocumented immigrants to pay fines or learn English. Furthermore, last October, before immigration heated up, Whitman favored a “program in which people would go to the end of the line, pay a fine and do things that would allow for a path to legalization.” John and Ken pushed Whitman to unequivocally admit that she does not support legalization under any circumstances:
HOST: In the Steve Poizner ad you said ‘path to citizenship’ is amnesty, here, you’re saying a path to citizenship is not amnesty…you said that in Spanish.
WHITMAN: A blanket path to amnesty, what Reagan did, is amnesty. When there’s no penalties. And a path to citizenship is amnesty too. I’m not for either of those. […] I am not for a path to citizenship. You know that.
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?
Whitman appears to have finally given some definitive answers on her tough immigration position in English. However, it’s doubtful she’ll start posting giant billboards in Spanish promoting her support for Arizona and writing Spanish-language editorials about her opposition to a path to legalization under any circumstances.