Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina launched a new effort Saturday to reach out to Latino voters, unveiling a Spanish-language website with supporters at a Hispanic-owned catering company.
But her chief endorsement at Saturday's event, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, has sharply different views from Fiorina on controversial immigration issues, including Arizona's new law and offering a path to legalization for those already in the United States illegally.
Fiorina supports Arizona's immigration law requiring police to ask people about their immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally. Gutierrez called it an inefficient use of valuable law enforcement time.
"I look at it as a manager, and to put all of your best law enforcement officers to go after gardeners and parking lot attendants and people who are trying to earn a living and not after people who are dealing drugs and coming to the country to do crime, I think is not going to solve the problem," Gutierrez said Saturday.
He said comprehensive immigration reform is the only solution.
Fiorina told reporters after her event that she supports a three-step approach to immigration reform, starting with sending more resources to secure the border with Mexico, then revamping the flawed guest worker program and going after employers that continue to hire undocumented workers.
After moving to the right on immigration and other issues in her GOP primary race, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. now must court the Hispanic voters who make up about a third of the California electorate as she seeks to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November. Fiorina's campaign unveiled a new website, "Amigos de Carly" Saturday.
Boxer's campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, said in a statement that Latino voters will have a very clear choice.
"Barbara Boxer supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to earned citizenship for people who pay taxes and fines, pass background checks, learn English and go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship," she said.
Fiorina declined to take a position on offering a legal path to citizenship.
"There is no point in talking about anything else until we get these first things done," she told reporters. When pressed, she added: "When we secure the border, and when we have a temporary worker program that works, then you come ask me that question again."
Gutierrez, who served as President George W. Bush's commerce secretary from 2005 to 2009, said he supported a 2005 immigration bill by Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Arizona, that would have provided a path to legal citizenship, set up a guest worker program and boosted funding for border security.
He said critics dismissed elements of that legislation as amnesty, but citizenship would have taken 12 to 18 years to acquire. Gutierrez, now a scholar at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, said he still supports a path to legalization, but "we have to be smart about when we do it."
"If we can get this right, it will give us an economic, competitive advantage not for 10 years but for a century. And that's what people need to understand, they just need to look at the big picture," he said.
The Cuban-born son of a pineapple farmer rose through the Kellogg Company and was named CEO in 1999, while Fiorina was a member of its board.
Fiorina said she was not concerned about differences between her position and that of Gutierrez, whom she called "a great adviser and a great friend."
She also declined to state specifically whether she supports federal laws requiring hospitals that receive Medicaid funds provide emergency care to everyone who needs it, regardless of their legal status.
"I do not know a doctor or a nurse who would have the heart to turn away somebody in trouble," she said. "But we never in Washington, D.C. appear to get about the business of securing the border. We just sort of gloss over it in our political dialogue."
Amigos de Carly: http://www.amigosdefiorina.com
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