By Trevor Hunnicutt, Juliet Williams, and Samantha Young
The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman took her campaign to Asian American voters statewide last Saturday as polls showed the former eBay chief executive slipping behind her Democratic opponent with just more than a week left in the race.
Whitman began a day of public appearances at a Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose owned by a Republican supporter. The GOP candidate was also scheduled to make appearances Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles’ Koreatown and in the heavily Asian American San Gabriel Valley.
During the campaign stops, Whitman spoke confidently about her chances for victory on Nov. 2.
“The polls are all over the place,” she said to a group of a dozen journalists at San Jose’s Saigon Kitchen restaurant. “I’m going to fight for every vote in every part of the state.”
Her stop in San Jose comes three days after a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Whitman trailing Democrat Jerry Brown, the state attorney general and former governor, by 8 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Whitman’s campaign promoted a private poll showing her in a statistical dead heat with Brown, while leading among independents.
Whitman, who has spent an unprecedented $142 million of her fortune on her campaign, was asked in San Jose about the role of her spending on the campaign.
She shot down criticism that she was attempting to “buy the election,’’ saying that her personal spending helped her counteract the strong role of unions and other groups that have supported Brown.
“The money that I am spending on the race is money that I have earned,” said Whitman. “You can’t buy elections in California.”
Whitman sat down at several tables in the restaurant and asked supporters how to improve her outreach to the Vietnamese community and told potential voters that their support was crucial.
“You are a very important group that could actually swing the outcome of this election,” said Whitman.
Nguyen van Canh, a former scholar at the conservative think tank the Hoover Institution, told Whitman that Vietnamese voters are a significant group and deserve Republican attention.
“Republicans should focus on campaigning and getting Vietnamese voters,” said Canh. “The swing vote is very important.”
While Asians make up about 13 percent of California’s adult population, Asian Americans account for about 6 percent of likely voters, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Whitman has used her well-funded campaign to start a broad ground outreach campaign for Asian American and Latino voters. The Whitman campaign maintains a Mandarin-language website and has a television advertising campaign in Mandarin and Cantonese.
On Monday, at an event in San Francisco, Brown’s campaign touted his own record supporting the Asian American community as governor from 1975-1983. The campaign said Brown appointed more than 250 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to government positions, boards, and commissions.
“Prior to Jerry Brown, the appointments of Asian Americans was an exception,” said Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat who represents San Jose and endorsed Brown. “He made it a rule. Today, we have not only judges, we have folks who are political leaders in the state of California and who go to the halls of Congress.” ♦