I heard a story once about a rookie NFL quarterback who in his first game was blindsided by a wily veteran defensive end. As he lay on the ground the veteran reached out his hand and helped the rookie to his feet, and said to him "Welcome to the NFL, kid."
This week promising political rookie Meg Whitman got blindsided by wily veteran political operatives. They are not likely to help her to her feet but the message is the same. "Welcome to the NFL, kid."
There is only one way to beat this bunch of special interests that will do anything to cling to their power the public be damned.
These guys play for keeps and it is time to take the gloves off. No more niceties. They want a street brawl? Give ‘em one.
She should remember the words of Captain John Parker who lead the 77 Minutemen at Lexington and Concord in 1775. "If they mean to have a war let it begin here."
Now nobody from the Whitman campaign is asking this old cowboy for advice, but I’m just ornery enough to give it anyways.
Meg should address Californians directly with no media filter.
In 1952 Nixon was Eisenhower’s VP candidate. Nixon was accused of being the beneficiary of a slush fund to pay for his political expenses. Ike was going to dump him from the ticket but Nixon pleaded that he be given an opportunity to clear himself. Ike said OK. It became known as the "Checkers" speech and it not only saved Nixon’s place on the ticket but it saved his political career.
The Republican National Committee bought the time and spoke directly to the American people and gave an impassioned defense. He received an outpouring of support and the rest is history.
She should combine the themes of the "Checkers" speech with the themes of another speech from the past.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater was losing badly to LBJ. Ronald Reagan was asked by the RNC to give a speech in support of Goldwater who Reagan, a former Democrat had endorsed. The speech was called "A Time for Choosing" and it raised $1 million overnight and launched the political career of The Gipper.
Here is what I would advise Meg to do.
Step One. Buy 10-15 minutes of time around 6pm on as many channels as you can.
Step Two. Go on LIVE TV, look directly into the camera and say…
My fellow Californians.
I’m not going to take up a lot of your time.
Whether you are still at work trying to make ends meet, on your way home from a long day, or getting supper for your kids I know you are busy.
But this election is too important to be decided by bullying special interests whose only goal is destroying me personally and this state practically while they desperately seek to cling to their power.
I’m a big girl and I can take it. And if I don’t win this election I will go on with my life and I will be fine.
But you and the rest of this state won’t be as the forces that are trying to defeat me will tighten their vise-like grip on California government from the city councils and county boards of supervisor’s right up to the California Legislature.
They will continue to bankrupt our state with their demands for more of your tax dollars to pay for their guaranteed early retirement while you will have to work longer to pay for it and may never have a chance to retire.
But before I talk about what we face in California, let me first address the issue that has brought the campaign to this point.
In 2000 I hired a housekeeper, Nicky Diaz through a reputable employment agency. I was assured that she was in this country legally and had documents. I saw them– a valid California driver’s license, a social security card and all the other requisite paperwork.
I trusted the agency and more importantly I trusted Nicky.
Nicky worked for my family for nine years and as I have said before we treated Nicky as a member of our extended family.
Then in June 2009 Nicky came to me and my husband and told us the startling news that for the entire nine years she worked for us she had been in this country illegally.
Regardless of our personal feelings for Nicky and her family, I had no choice but to let her go.
I called my lawyer to see if anything could be done but I was told there were no options.
Did I report her to the federal immigration authorities that most likely would have resulted in her deportation and possible separation from her children and family?
No I did not.
If I was the heartless employer that her camera chasing lawyer says I am I would have done so.
But neither I nor my husband wanted to create any further problems for Nicky so we just let it go.
People can judge me for my actions but I would simply ask them what would they have done? It was a problem that Nicky needed to sort out.
Now Nicky has been brought forward by unscrupulous political forces that have exposed her to possible deportation and even criminal prosecution for falsifying government documents.
They don’t care one iota about Nicky as long as she is useful to them and can be used as a political smear against me.
What will happen to Nicky now?
If she does face deportation and prosecution it will be on the head Gloria Allred and the character assassins she won’t name.
Let me now directly address the folks who I suspect are behind this.
I’ll tell you who they are. They are the ossified, entrenched Tammany Hall style special interests that have had a stranglehold on this state for far too long.
The union bosses of California’s public employees unions.
In 1910 the California Legislature was controlled by powerful railroads.
They reached their hands into the hallowed halls of the people’s house in Sacramento and worked their will. Today you can substitute public employee unions for railroads but the result is the same.
In 100 years we have traded the tyranny of the railroads for the tyranny of the unions.
Trading one set of masters for another is not progress.
They have unleashed an assault on me and my family that will not go unanswered.
Because the union bosses feel threatened that I will challenge this cozy capitol cabal they have decided they will spend millions of their members’ dues to defeat me.
Let me be clear I have the utmost respect for those who work in state and local government.
But rank and file public employees will have to understand that we can no longer afford the high costs of pensions and retiree healthcare and they will have to be willing to change and adapt just as every other hard working Californian has already done.
And if we don’t get a handle on this right now California will become Athens-on-the-Pacific
The union bosses tactics of bullying and intimidation might have worked against other candidates or elected officials but they won’t work against me.
I will not be bullied and I will not be intimidated now or in the future. And you can count on that.
Now let me speak directly to the Latinos of California since this seems to be aimed at those of you who support me and the change I am trying to bring to this state.
When the media uses the term "Latino Community" they imply that all California Latinos are recent immigrants struggling to make it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Many Latinos can trace their California roots back many generations. They are doctors, lawyers, business executives, and entrepreneurs.
I have been privileged enough to meet many of them on the campaign trail. They are supporting my candidacy because they share the same dreams and aspirations for California that I have. For their support I am grateful.
But we must recognize there are many Latinos legally here in the United States that are still working their way up the ladder.
For those of you in this situation sometimes it might seem your burden is a little heavier.
But let me tell you something right here and now.
If Jerry Brown and his union allies win this election another generation of your children will be condemned to substandard schools controlled by unions more concerned about political power than educating your children.
Water will not magically start to flow into the Central Valley where many of you are either farmers or depend on agriculture for work. Rural unemployment will remain high.
And the statewide unemployment rate will remain high as more and more of your tax dollars will be spent on pensions and retiree healthcare for the unions instead of the things we need to grow.
Finally to the rest of my fellow Californians.
This is election is not about Latino Californians or Anglo Californians. It is about all Californians.
Whether you are a farmer who has seen your precious water disappear to save a small fish, a business owner facing overly burdensome regulations or someone who is thinking of leaving our beautiful state because there is no work, we need to band together and fight those interests that like things just the way they are.
My success at EBay was not mine alone. It was a team effort. My success was the team’s success.
And if I am privileged enough to be elected your Governor any success I have in turning this state around will be due to your hard work and will be more your success than mine. That is how it should be.
If you elect me I will take the heat from the special interests and break down the walls of the old system and replace it with a new system so that all of you can prosper, raise your families and enjoy your golden years.
Let me summon you to our challenge with some words that former President and California Governor Ronald Reagan said in a speech in 1964.
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."
It is indeed a "time for choosing".
Thank you and good night.