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Whitman turns to Pete Wilson for immigration help

May 10, 2010 | 10:07 am

For the last decade, many California Republicans have tiptoed around the issue of illegal immigration and sought to distance themselves from Proposition 187. GOP standard bearers from Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have sought to downplay the issue and set themselves apart from the views embraced by former Gov. Pete Wilson during his 1994 reelection campaign, which had a central tough-on-immigration message.

But now, apparently, it's time to party like it's 1994. Spurred on by Steve Poizner's consistent campaigning on the issue, with big assists from a distressed economy and the national immigration discussion ignited by a new law in Arizona, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has decided she can ignore the issue no longer.

Whitman launched a new radio ad focusing on immigration this weekend. And who did the Whitman campaign turn to shore up Whitman's tough-on-immigration bona fides?

You guessed it -- Pete Wilson.

The radio spot is a response to a new ad launched over the weekend by Team Poizner. And if the rapid-fire response from the Whitman campaign is any indication, there must be signs that Poizner's attacks are working.

In a new 60-second radio spot, Whitman turns to Wilson, who says: "I know how important it is to stop illegal immigration, and I know Meg Whitman. Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration."

Not exactly Wilson's famous "they keep coming" ad. But it is an indication that while the issue of illegal immigration may have been dormant in California for the last decade, it has not gone away.

You can watch Poizner's new immigration ad below.

-- Anthony York

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