Sparks flew immediately at the second debate between California gubernatorial rivals Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown today, as the under-fire GOP candidate accused her Democratic opponent of masterminding a "risky" flap about the illegal immigrant maid she employed for nine years.
Whitman came out swinging at Brown in the debate, sponsored by Univision, as she tried to make the most of her air time to regain her footing after her toughest week in the general election.
"The real tragedy here is Nicky. After Nov. 2, no one's going to be watching out for Nicky Diaz," said Whitman, in a reference to the former housekeeper, who was an illegal immigrant. Whitman has claimed she didn't know about the woman's status.
"And Jerry, you know you should be ashamed, you and your surrogates ... put her deportation at risk. You put it out there and you should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions."
Brown shot back, "Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet and say, 'Hey I made a mistake'," Brown said in a moment fraught with tension as the two candidates, neck-and-neck in the polls, turned away from the audience and faced each other directly. "You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions. But you don't take accountability."
"This is a very sad situation, and the Nicky that I saw on the press conference a few days ago was not the Nicky that I knew for nine years," Whitman said. "And you what my first clue was? She kept referring to me as Ms. Whitman. And for the 10 years, nine years she worked for me, she called me Meg and I called her Nicky."