And Meg Whitman opened the program today. The audio of our conversation is here, and the transcript follows below.
HH: It seems impossible to believe that a broken, collapsing state facing a fiscal stroke, and an urban education nightmare, would spend two days, thirty days before an election, figuring out what the Gloria Allred reality show is going to do next. But that’s exactly what has happened. She held another press conference today. Meg Whitman’s campaign has put out a statement from Dr. Griff Harsh. And joining me to discuss that is in fact the candidate herself. Meg Whitman, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
MW: Hi, Hugh. How are you?
HH: I’m great. How are you with trash barge politics careening down the media river? What do you make of running for governor now?
MW: (laughing) Well, you know what? We’re thirty days, or thirty-five days out from the election, and my view is the Brown campaign and Gloria Allred are doing what is typical politics, which is, you know, a smear campaign designed to hurt me and my family. And I guess it’s what you have to expect. It’s a real shame, and I think Jerry Brown should be ashamed. But you know, it is kind of what it is, and that’s what politics has become in America. And I think it’s what people really don’t like.
HH: Now your husband, Dr. Harsh, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting once…
HH: And America, he’s actually a brain surgeon and a Rhodes scholar. He put out a statement today that said he does not remember this letter that Gloria Allred was waving around, but that the letter, letters like it or this letter, does not say anything about your former housekeeper’s status. Do you remember this letter?
MW: I don’t, actually. And I wouldn’t. You know, Griff took care of a lot of our incoming mail and things. So you know, it wouldn’t have been something I necessarily would have seen.
HH: And the statement from Dr. Harsh says this letter, it’s important to note what this letter actually says. “This letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.” This is the key question, Meg Whitman. I think you answered it yesterday, but I just want you to answer it again. Did you or Dr. Harsh have any reason to believe, until your housekeeper came to you in 2009, that she was in the country illegally?
MW: We did not. In fact, we had reason to believe the opposite, that we had hired her through an employment agency. We said we have to have someone who is documented to work here. We got a copy of her driver’s license, of her Social Security card, of an I-9 form, which is the form that people sign to work legally in the United States, that says I certify under perjury that I am here legally. And so we had every reason to believe that she was legal. So quite the opposite.
HH: Now in terms of the aftermath of this, the political commentariat is saying this is going to hurt you with voters who are of Latino descent. What do you make about that?
MW: You know, I don’t know. We’ll see how this all plays out. My view is in some ways, this could have a backlash in the Latino community, because I think there are many people like Nicky, who you know, probably forged their papers, and you know, now find themselves in this tough situation. And I think what Latinos also understand is that Nicky’s being used, and used for a political stunt. And I think it really does show Jerry Brown’s true colors, which is he’s willing to sacrifice, really, you know, a fine Latino woman for his own political gain. And so I think it actually does show his true colors, and I think the Latino community will understand that. And you know, I think actually in a way, it could backfire with the Latino community. And I’ve done a lot, as you know, to include Latinos in my campaign. I want everyone in the Latino community to feel part of this campaign.
HH: Is there any doubt in your mind that there is collusion, or whether we’ll ever find out what it is, between the Brown campaign and Democratic party operatives, or Democratic party operatives, and Gloria Allred?
MW: There’s very little doubt in my mind. You probably heard this morning that Randy Shandobil had been contacted by the Brown campaign, you know, saying that this was circulating around two weeks ago. They were beginning to flog the story. So you know, I suspect, I don’t have perfect knowledge here, but I think I would be na?ve if I didn’t have heavy suspicions that there was collusion between the Brown campaign and Gloria Allred, who as you know, does this every single election cycle. This is her pattern.
HH: You know, there are two smear merchants on that side who are renowned. One is Gloria, the other is Bob Mulholland. Are you prepared for when Bob shows up spewing something?
MW: (laughing) Yeah, I guess so.
HH: I want to ask about the impact of this on your campaign. You won the Tuesday night debate. It was a serious debate, but former Governor Brown ended up going a little bit goofy at the end, talking about going to bars and stuff. Do you think it was Gloria’s intent to knock the media off of that story, Meg Whitman, that you won the debate?
MW: You know, I think the timing is suspect, that you know, I think the debate went very well for me. I think I outlined a very concrete plan that I have to turn California around. Jerry Brown has no plan. And so boom, next thing, next morning, you know, this is what pops up. And it’s, you know, it’s a smear merchant, as you said.
HH: We are not electing a monarch. We are electing a governor who is supposed to apply the laws. Now when Jerry was Governor last time, he manipulated the law on executions, he manipulated the law on highway funding. This episode shows that when you’re confronted with a law you would rather not actually have to apply, you would apply it, that you are going to govern by the law. Has that been voiced yet by anyone else?
MW: Well, I think people do understand that. I mean, I was faced with a difficult decision in many ways, that you know, we found out that a woman who had become quite close to our family was undocumented. It was in direct violation of the law. It’s illegal to hire illegal immigrants in this state. It’s illegal to hire undocumented workers. And so when we were told she was undocumented, we had to let her go. And you know, it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I felt very badly about it. But I knew it was the right decision, and I knew I had to do it.
HH: When you’re confronted with other decisions like that, if you win this election in which many polls have you leading right now, will you make the same decision to apply the law, particularly, I’m thinking of the situations where manipulation has occurred in the past. Prop. 8 right now, Jerry Brown is manipulating Prop. 8.
MW: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, your duty as the governor of this great state is to uphold and enforce the law. And with regard to Prop. 8, regardless of your views of gay marriage, it is incumbent on the governor and the Attorney General to defend Prop. 8, to give it the standing to go through the appeals process to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately maybe even to the Supreme Court. And right now, Jerry Brown has refused to give that ruling standing, because he says he doesn’t think it’s Constitutional. I don’t think you can be the Attorney General or the governor, and be in the business of deciding what’s Constitutional and what’s not. You have to defend the Constitution of the United States, and that’s why we have a judicial process. You’ve got to let that judicial process go forward. And as you know, he has not.
HH: I bring up Prop. 8 because it is an issue which is important with the Latino community, quite, quite heavily so, as is education. Have you had a chance to view Waiting for Superman?
MW: I did. I saw Waiting For Superman last week, and that is a movie every single Californian should see. It will open your eyes to the terrible shape that our education system is in, and also shows how you know, really the teachers unions have a stranglehold on what’s going on in our education system.
HH: That’s the takeaway. The teacher unions will do anything to preserve power. Do you expect that they will be hammering you going forward, for reasons articulated in Waiting For Superman? They are the opponents and enemies of reform.
MW: Absolutely. And they are already hammering me. They are the second-largest contributor to Jerry Brown’s independent expenditures. And the way you have to think about Jerry Brown’s efforts is I like to call it Jerry Brown, Incorporated, because he is spending money he’s raised, but the unions, the CTA being the second-largest contributor, have spent $21 million dollars in negative ads against me since June 9th. And the reason is they want to protect the status quo. The CTA doesn’t want any changes. They are, you know, they’ve got a death grip on the status quo, and that’s why they’re supporting Jerry Brown, because they know that I will change the status quo in Sacramento. So that’s why they’re supporting him so dramatically.
HH: Waiting For Superman’s all about charter schools. What’s Meg Whitman’s position on that, because I’m sure Latinos, and anyone living in an urban core with failing school systems wants to know whether you will support ways for kids to get out of that situation.
MW: Absolutely. We have got to have more charter schools in California, because charter schools do two things. One is on average, they do a better job with our children, because the principals have hirer or fire authority over teachers, and a whole lot more autonomy, and aren’t just being strangled by the bureaucracy. So generally speaking, charter schools do a much better job for our children. And they also do one other thing, is they provide parents choice. So if your child is in a failing school, you have an alternative. You have another place to go, which I think has the desired effect of maybe making the regular public schools compete harder so they don’t lose too many kids to the charter schools. So I think charter schools are absolutely an essential part of education reform in our state.
HH: Last question, Meg Whitman, obviously the media loves a story like this, because it’s simple, and it’s stupid in many respects, and it provides great grist for the mill. Will you be cutting this story off, meaning I’m just not going to talk about this anymore at sometime soon in order to be able to talk about things like charter schools?
MW: Well, you know, I want to get this discussion back to what matters most to Californians. This is a distraction off of the main issues, and the reason that the Brown campaign doesn’t want to talk about the main issues is because they don’t have a plan. So I’m going to work as hard as I can to get the discussion back to jobs and the economy, and how we turn around our failing education system. But I will continue to defend myself here. We did nothing wrong. We abided by the law, we worked hard to hire only a documented worker. She lied to us for nine years. When we found out what she had done, we let her go as the law requires. So you know, I want to talk about the things that matter most to Californians, but if I have to keep on you know, talking about this issue to defend myself, I will.
HH: Meg Whitman, thanks for joining us today on a busy media day. I appreciate it.
MW: Great. Thank you, Hugh. Have a good afternoon.
HH: You, too.
End of interview.