Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kulo Hits Ron Hard on Migrant Hypocrisy; Campaign Follows Up

I'm sure at some point we'll talk more about the KGW debate last night between Oregon's goobernatorial candidates, but the thing that struck me most positively about Ted Kulongoski's performance was his strong counterpunch to Ron Saxton on immigration. There was a period when people were worried about the hit the governor was taking as ad after ad from Saxton ran on TV, calling Kulo soft on illegal immigration.

But as KGW reported this evening, Kulongoski seized upon the cherry farm issue as evidence of Saxton's double standard:
“It is hypocrisy to actually raise the issue, not take responsibility for raising it and then turn around and be part of the problem not a part of the solution and not support a state sanction against employers who hire illegal aliens,” Kulongoski said.
That's a good quote, a solid soundbite that will play well in debate recaps. But we had already gotten wind of the intent to push back hard from campaign manager Jim Ross this afternoon:
No one from this campaign has ever gone on the record criticizing Ron Saxton for possibly hiring illegal immigrants. That's not the issue, either. The issue is that someone who touted his farm experience -- and may have hired illegal immigrants -- ran an ad blaming Governor Kulongoski for the illegal immigration in this state. He bullshitted the voters and said the lure for these human beings was our driver's licenses when everyone knows it's the minimum wage jobs on farms like Saxton's that draws illegal immigrants to the U.S.

The issue is also that a real farmer and a responsible leader would not demagogue on the issue of illegal immigration, not only because of the obvious hypocrisy, but because that ad will make it that much harder for this nation to ever pass meaningful immigration reform that actually stops illegal immigration. [emphs mine]
I put the last paragraph in italics because it's the crux of the response Kulongoski gave last night, perhaps even a little more elegantly said. And I bolded the other part because, face it, when was the last time a campaign manager went on the record with a phrase like "bullshitted the voters?" Ross is an old-hand import from California, but he seems to readily recognize the Oregon native species smarmicus Republicanus. Good for him, and good on Ted for performing well. Saxton did rather better as well, but the governor likely brought many folks home for November, and that's really all he needs--to bring back those who voted for him the first time.