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Spanish-Language Whitman Ad Claims She Is Against Arizona Immigration Law

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor in California, has a new Spanish-language ad touting her opposition to the “Arizona law,” SB 1070, and accusing her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown of misleading voters. “Don’t let Jerry Brown fool you: Meg Whitman is against the Arizona law,” the announcer says. “She is with us.”

But as Ben Smith points out, her opposition to the Arizona immigration law is fairly weak: She has said she opposes the law for California because its geography is different than Arizona’s, but said in July she “would let the Arizona law stand.”

On the one hand, Whitman is not running for governor of Arizona, and her aides say she would veto an Arizona-style law in California if it came across her desk. Still, her position is to the right of Brown, who argues Arizona was wrong to take up an immigration enforcement law in the first place. Brown claims her opposition is too weak. “So she’s for the Arizona law for the people who are suffering right now, the people who are cleaners in Arizona,” Brown said at an Oct. 2 debate.

Whitman’s new ad downplays these differences:

After a shift to the right during her primary, Whitman has attempted to woo Latino voters through outreach and advertising. Much of her advertising, though, rings a slightly false note given her past statements and supporters. One billboard claimed in Spanish that Whitman was against SB 1070 and Proposition 187, the overturned 1994 law that barred undocumented immigrants from receiving state benefits and was widely perceived as racist. The bill’s main champion, then-governor Pete Wilson, is her campaign chairman and called her “tough as nails” on immigration during the primary — a position she now seems to be retreating from. Wilson has been pushed behind the scenes of the campaign during the general election and rarely appears with Whitman in public.

Both candidates for governor are angling for the Latino vote, which could prove crucial in a state where Latinos make up 37 percent of the population. Notably, California likely voters also tend to be pro-immigrant, with a recent poll indicating a majority oppose deportation for undocumented immigrants who live and work in the country.

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