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Does Whitman’s newest ad contradict policy statements?

Meg Whitman’s heavy play to Latinos is making page 37 of her famously glossy 48-page “policy agenda” booklet the most dog-eared page in the history of California opposition research.

That’s where Whitman’s stances on illegal immigration are there for all to see and juxtapose against anything she says that might ring contradictory.

And Sterling Clifford, spokesman, oppo-research and damage control point man in Jerry Brown’s campaign, seems to be finding plenty of material to juxtapose.

In her newest ad — geared to Spanish language media markets –Whitman talks of improving schools in general. But, with Spanish subtitles and imagery with her standing in classrooms with Latino school children, talks directly to Latinos, saying she wants improved opportunities for Latinos.

“California has been blessed with the most beautiful natural resources in the world,” Whitman says against the backdrop of a blackboard and melodic strings playing. “But our most important resource our young people. The Latino kids attending public schools in California today will be tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, businessmen and teachers. I want them to have the opportunity to go as far in life as their God-given talent will take them. I will fight for reforms that will make our public education system the very best again. If we want California to be a place of opportunity, then we must give our kids a world-class education.”

One element to education considered vital in the Latino community is bilingual education, which enables second-language learners to learn in their native tongue.

Not mentioned in the ad is her opposition to bilingual education, stated in her “slick photo pamphlet,” as Clifford describes it. “She will defend Prop. 227’s English immersion requirements,” the pamphlet says. English, she adds, is “America’s national language.”

She also favors banning the admission of undocumented students to University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges, Clifford points out.

“It’s hard to become a doctor or engineer if you aren’t allowed into college,” Clifford said.

In her “Tough as Nails” radio ad (the one where she says “all illegal immigrants are just that — illegal.” And the one where former Gov. Pete Wilson, the author of Prop. 187 and her campaign co-chairman, says Whitman will be “as tough as nails” on illegal immigrants), Whitman said she would deny undocumented workers and their children government services, which presumably includes education.

They “should not expect benefits from the state of California,” Whitman said in the ad.

“This of course is exactly what Prop. 187 would have done had it not been blocked by the courts,” Clifford said.

Hector Barajas, Whitman’s spokesman on Latino issues, said that she did not mean she would oppose any and all benefits to illegal immigrants. She specified drivers licenses and higher education in the ad, and that’s all she meant, Barajas said.

“She has indicated she is against Prop. 187, which would deny children access to education and health care,” Barajas said. “There is no indication we’ve been contradictory. We’ve been crystal clear in our positions. The Brown campaign is just feeling hurt because they’ve not been reaching out and communicating with the Latino communities.”

Clifford said that if drivers licenses and higher education was all she meant, “she wouldn’t have used the first sentence,” which broadly states she’s opposed to any state services to undocumented immigrants.

Here’s the ad:

Correction: In an ad watch item that ran Sunday in MediaNews publications, I erroneously wrote that Brown had said in a private meeting with business leaders that his biggest single mistake as a governor was signing legislation that created collective bargaining for public employee unions.

Brown’s spokesman Sterling Clifford denied Brown said in any forum that he considered creation of collective bargaining a mistake. The source who made the claim said he stands by the statement but refused to divulge who told him about Brown’s alleged comments.

Steven Harmon

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Bilingual education is “considered vital” in the Latino community that earns its bread by getting research grants and harping on grievances. Oddly, I have never heard Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles emphasize the bilingual approach. On a personal level, I’ve tutored immigrant children in this area and have yet to hear a parent praise bilingual instruction. When they do mention it, it’s for adult ed.

  • Doug

    I’m starting to like Meg. Nothing wrong with acknowledging contributions by people of any ethnicity, so long as they are also citizens. Why would I be “outraged” by NOT wanting to pay for an illegal immigrant to go to our excellent universities?

  • Hector

    Uninvited Columnist: you are so right Bilingual education is not considered “vital” to the Latino community. The people who are most against their children being taught in pure Spanish for the first 3-4 years of a student’s life and then transitioned into English are Latino parents. Look at the Pico-Union protests, where Latino parents said: you teach my kid in English I will teach them in Spanish at home. Parents don’t mention it.

  • Greg

    Doug, you’ve been bought and sold.

  • Elwood

    Actions like the court’s overturning of Prop 187 and the state’s refusal to defend it are what cause so many of us to be cynical about politics.