ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 03: Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of EBay, speaks on day three of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center on September 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The GOP will nominate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the Republican choice for U.S. President on the last day of the convention. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Meg Whitman sees an opportunity. And this time, it might not cost her millions of dollars of her own money to take advantage of it.
California's huge Latino population is plenty angry about Arizona's new immigration law. The Whitman camp thinks she is on the right side of the issue. Her differences with Republican opponent Steve Poizner were underscored in last Sunday's debate. Poizner said if he were the governor, he'd sign the Arizona legislation (after it was amended to prevent overt racial profiling.) Whitman said she would not. She argued that an identical law in California's would hurt the state's agriculture and technology industries.
Univision's Spanish-language television program Voz y Voto has invited Spanish-speaking staff members of the respective campaigns to debate on May 12th. The Whitman campaign, which has rejected all but two televised debates during the campaign, promptly accepted this invitation.
The Poizner camp says it is considering it. While the debate would likely not be limited to the immigration issue or Arizona's new law, the Whitman campaign seems comfortable that the discussion would be less about her campaign spending and her ties to Goldman Sachs, and more about a topic that might put her in a favorable light with a key block of California voters -- at least for the primary election. With new polls now showing a significantly tighter race between the Republicans, Whitman might have an issue to slow down the Poizner momentum.
Throughout this Republican campaign, there's been far more attention paid to the Tea Party movement than to the Latino vote. Now the two influences have converged to create what the Whitman camp sees as an opening.
And Meg didn't have to spend a penny.