- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2002

President Bush will appear at two private fund-raising events for California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon today, but he will not share the stage with the aspiring politician when he addresses Hispanic community leaders in Santa Ana, just south of Los Angeles.
The Simon campaign yesterday offered no explanation for why their candidate was missing an opportunity to stump with a popular president of his own party before a Hispanic audience, which both Mr. Bush and the California Republican Party have been making a concerted effort to court.
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis's chief campaign strategist, Garry South, suggested Mr. Bush probably wanted to avoid being seen publicly with Mr. Simon, whose investment firm recently lost a $78 million fraud judgment.
"Having the press take pictures of president standing next to a guy who just got hit with a $78 million fraud verdict is not helpful to the president," said Mr. South.
He also said the White House needs to place a nonpolitical event on the schedule to justify using taxpayer funds for the trip, just as President Clinton did.
The White House said yesterday that Mr. Bush will address the Hispanic group at 3:05 p.m., shortly after he and Mr. Simon appear at a closed-to-the-press fund-raising luncheon for Mr. Simon. Mr. Bush will appear at a second Simon fund-raiser tonight, also closed to the press.
Mr. Bush and his political advisers, not the candidate he is helping, decide where and when they will appear together, said Simon campaign officials, who confirmed courting Hispanic voters is a priority.
Polls show Mr. Bush remains popular with Hispanics in California. And Mr. Simon's campaign, which needs the $3 million infusion the president's appearances are expected to generate, is increasingly looking to Hispanics for help in the form of votes, not money.
Mr. Simon has been attempting to ingratiate himself with Hispanics in personal appearances and TV ads from the beginning of his campaign.
A poll released this week, however, shows Mr. Simon trailing Mr. Davis by a large margin, 55 percent to 21 percent, among Hispanics in the state.
The Aug. 2-14 poll of 312 Hispanic voters, commissioned by the Washington-based Latino Coalition, was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates' Opiniones Latinas, a Republican firm. The finding has an error margin of plus or minus 5.5 percent.
"While there is a much more positive image for Republicans in California, if individual candidates do not show the same kind of interest and concern for Latinos and their issues, as the president has, the coattails immediately evaporate," Latino Coalition President Robert de Posada said.
He said Mr. Simon is one example of a candidate who doesn't pay as much attention to Hispanics as Mr. Bush does.
Mr. Simon has made a number of appearances before Hispanic groups, even addressing them briefly in carefully articulated Spanish. But his campaign has lacked the money to do "saturation" television advertising in Spanish the most effective way to reach the growing voting bloc in the nation's most populous state.

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