One day after a poll showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman doing well with Latino voters, Democrat Jerry Brown shared a podium in Los Angeles this afternoon with 14 Latino leaders, blasting her for what he called cynical and misleading advertising.
"The people aren't fooled," he said at a press conference behind the student union at California State University, Los Angeles.
Brown's supporters praised the former governor for his work for immigrants and farmworkers while in office.
"Jerry Brown broke bread with Cesar Chavez," U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra said. "His opponent breaks bread with Pete Wilson."
The event followed by one day a nonpartisan Field Poll showing Whitman was supported by 39 percent of likely Latino voters, 11 percentage points fewer than support Brown but better for Whitman than many observers expected.
After being pulled to the right on immigration by Republican rival Steve Poizner in the GOP primary - alienating some Latino voters, experts said - Whitman started her general election campaign by advertising heavily on Spanish-language radio and TV, trumpeting her opposition to Arizona's immigration law and to Proposition 187.
Her rhetoric has softened substantially from the primary, when she used her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, a major supporter of Proposition 187, to help convince Republicans that she would be tough on immigration.
Brown said "fancy, cynical, 30-second commercials" would do nothing to solve the state's problems, and he said Whitman is saying the "exact opposite" about immigration in the general election as she was in the primary campaign.
The Whitman campaign said Whitman has been consistent.
Latino voters, who are expected to make up 15 percent to 20 percent of the electorate in November, are traditionally a Democratic voting bloc, and experts believe Whitman must capture the support of about a third of Latino voters if she is to defeat Brown in November.
After the press conference, Brown dismissed the Field Poll's results, saying internal polling indicates "very strong" Latino support.
The endorsements Brown announced today were hardly unexpected. They included state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, a prominent immigrant advocate, Los Angeles Board of Education President Monica Garcia and several Democratic lawmakers from the area.
Hector Barajas, a Whitman spokesman, said a press conference with "a bunch of Sacramento politicians" would not help Brown's campaign.
PHOTO CREDIT: Standing with Latino legislators, California Attorney General Jerry Brown speaks at Cal State University Los Angeles today. (Associated Press Photo/ Nick Ut)