Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today announced the endorsement of former California Gov. Pete Wilson, and named him the Romney campaign’s honorary California chairman.
“I’m honored to have Governor Pete Wilson’s support, because he’s one of California’s most accomplished leaders. As governor of California from 1991 to 1999, he led California from the depths of recession to prosperous economic recovery,” Romney said in a news release. “Taking office with an inherited revenue gap of over $14 million, he left his successor a surplus of over $12.5 million. Insisting on strict budget discipline and rehabilitation of the state’s then-hostile environment toward investment and job creation, Pete persuaded Democratic Legislative majorities to enact dramatic tax and regulatory relief especially helpful to small businesses.”
Wilson, in the same release, called Romney “an enthusiastic believer in American exceptionalism and has been a spectacular example of it: Mitt has been a success in creating American private sector jobs, a success as the rescuer of the Salt Lake City Olympic games, and as a public chief executive as the Republican governor in the challenging environment of heavily Democratic Massachusetts.”
“It is clear that he will be a success in the White House, as the strong leader America so desperately needs to reverse the unprecedented and utterly irresponsible borrowing, taxing and spending of the Obama administration,” Wilson said. “And as the most electable top of our ticket, his candidacy will attract the support of Republican, Independent and wise Democratic voters, and is rightly seen by down-ticket Republican candidates as the nominee most beneficial to them in their own races. He is the leader we need to rescue this great nation from the tragedy of a second Obama term that threatens grave and perhaps irreparable harm to both our economy and our national security. Mitt Romney will provide the leadership to create the confidence and certainty of judgment needed to stimulate investment that creates jobs rather than green taxpayer-funded bankruptcies. He will restore America’s strength and credibility, and win back respect for America from both our friends and our enemies.”
It should be interesting to see if this affects Romney’s chances with California’s significant Latino voter bloc, which certainly had no love for Wilson – his support of Proposition 187 of 1994 might’ve burned that bridge forever, as evidenced by Latino leaders’ reaction to Wilson’s support of Meg Whitman in 2010.
UPDATE @ 2:01 P.M.: “I think it will add to what has been a pretty consistently negative message from the Romney campaign to Latino voters in California and across the nation,” said UC-Irvine political science and Chicano/Latino studies professor Louis DeSipio, an expert in Latino politics and voting.
Most Latino voters old enough to remember Prop. 187 won’t feel good about Wilson, he said, and “in the interim he hasn’t endeared himself to Latinos with his work for Meg Whitman, for example.”
“To the extent that the Romney campaign reaches out to Latino organizations, I think this will be an added barrier for them,” DeSipio said.
UPDATE @ 3:11 P.M.: Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said he thinks this means “that he’s getting really bad campaign advice.”
“Anybody on the ground in California who was hoping to peel away Latino voters in a general election wouldn’t put Pete Wilson front and center,” Vargas said. “To me it’s baffling. Meg Whitman learned what a mistake that was for her to do the same in 2010 when she ran for governor – it certainly didn’t work for her.”
Exit polls showed Whitman won only about a third of California’s Latino vote.