Meg Whitman makes the insider case in CA-Gov.
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has spent months running for the Republican gubernatorial nod in California as an outsider to the political process, has launched a new ad featuring endorsements from a handful of party insiders.
Whitman's new ad includes testimonials from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- two pillars of the Republican establishment -- as well as Jon Coupal, the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Rice says that Whitman "has the values, the strength and the skill to lead California back to greatness" while Romney describes her as a "leader with integrity and proven skills to bring California back."
Using political validators has been an iffy strategy in a year like this one where incumbents (of any political stripe) are viewed skeptically.
Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson tried to wrap himself in endorsements from the likes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Hal Rogers -- among others -- but lost badly to ophthalmologist Rand Paul in last Tuesday's Senate primary.
In this case, the Whitman forces argue that the Rice, who is viewed more as a celebrity than a politician, and Romney help validate Whitman's Republican bona fides after a withering attack from state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner's campaign regarding her record on immigration issues. Poizner's latest ad hammers Whitman for supporting "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.
Whitman's change in strategy reflects the fact that her primary against Poizner has tightened. Rather than run a general election message focused on broad issues like the economy and jobs, Whitman has pivoted in recent days to talk about her hard-line stand on immigration -- an issue close to the heart of California Republicans.
It's worth remembering that the California Republican party is surprisingly conservative -- largely due to the fact that the leftward movement in the state has kept only the most loyal of GOPers still in the Republican camp.
Whitman allies insist the change in message is working -- noting that a new Survey USA poll shows her leading Poizner by 27 points in advance of the June 8 primary.
But, throwing your lot in with the party establishment -- particularly when you've run a campaign as an outsider -- comes with real political risk in a cycle like this one where any evidence of being a "politician" doesn't play well with voters.
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