Just a few weeks ago, Republican Meg Whitman has close to a 40-point lead against her Republican rival for governor. Now a new poll seems to indicate that Steve Poizner has pulled to within two points
Whitman met with voters in Ontario. She was again asked about an issue that was never the focus of her campaign.
"First and foremost … I'm against amnesty for illegal immigrants," said Whitman.
It appears now that the issue of illegal immigration, coupled with her former involvement with the Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs, has Whitman on the defensive. Her opponent has been hammering her on these issues.
A SurveyUSA poll has the two neck and neck, showing Whitman with 39 percent of the vote, and Poizner with 37 percent, with the election just a month away.
Whitman says she's not fazed by those numbers.
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"I feel good. Our message is getting out and the true issues here are jobs and the economy," she said.
Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, says she is in a tricky situation: "The focus on jobs and the economy is what people say they want… the trouble is, Poizner's charges are started to get some traction, and she needs to reassure people about her relationship with Goldman Sachs, and about her position on immigration."
While Whitman has severed ties with Goldman Sachs, her response to charges she benefited unfairly from her dealings with the firm are not easily refuted. As for immigration, a new radio spot features former Gov. Pete Wilson endorsing Whitman's approach to the issue.
Poizner's campaign feels it has found a voice.
"I want to take to take big bold steps to stop the flow of illegals into this state. Meg Whitman supports amnesty. I voted for most my life; Meg Whitman hasn't. These differences are coming out," Poizner said.
The Whitman campaign is hoping for help this Friday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveils the May revision for the state budget. They believe the numbers will be so bad it will refocus attention on their core issues of job and the economy.