When the Nicky Diaz story broke, Meg Whitman steadfastly refused to say whether she thought her former housekeeper should be deported. It was a no-win situation. If she said yes, she looked cruel; if she said no, then she didn't believe in the rule of law.

Whether that was the best response or not, she should have stuck with it, instead of going off-script with Greta Van Susteren last night:

“It breaks my heart, but she should be deported because she forged documents, and she lied about her immigration status.”

That smacking sound was Mike Murphy's palm hitting his forehead. Generally you don't want to be shoring up your base FIVE DAYS before the election.

Polls consistently show that a broad majority of Californians are opposed to deporting illegal immigrants who have been here for a while and haven't committed any crimes.

What makes it worse, Nicky has U.S. citizen children. If she were deported, either they'd have to get yanked out of school and go with her to Mexico, or they would have to stay with legal relatives in the U.S. and be separated from their mother. Whitman must be trying to see how high she can get her negatives to go.

Whitman's gaffe might not make much difference in the governor's race. She's down 10 points in the Field Poll already. But it might hurt down-ticket Republicans, if Republican voters decide to stay home.

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