But, Political Scientist and author David Provost says Whitman is hardly a liberal on illegal immigration.
"Whitman's position on immigration, Poizner's saying that's terrible but it's the same position taken by George W. Bush and John McCain. It was a Republican sponsored proposal."
Whitman responded with a radio ad, in which she gets former Governor Pete Wilson, known for his anti-illegal-immigration views, to endorse her. In the ad Wilson said, "Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration."
Anti immigration rhetoric may have helped Poizner's surge in the polls but ABC 30 Legal and Political Analyst Tony Capozzi believes it may have more to do with the fact Poizner's finally responding to Whitman's massive ad campaign. "The big issue is money is being spent by Poizner and he's attacking Whitman," said Capozzi.
But the fact both campaigns are using illegal immigrants to gain votes is troubling to immigration activist Stan Santos. "It's exploiting all that misery and injustice just to see who can come out ahead in some opinion polls and in the end it's the people of California who lose because it's going to create an environment of extremism," said Santos.
Focusing on illegal immigration may play well in the primaries and in the Central Valley, but come November, Provost says either Republican could be seen as too extreme for most California voters.
David Provost said, "Nixon's admonition long ago that you run to the right in the primary and run to the center in the general is going to be harder to do this time, because they've taken positions so far to the right that they are now on record."