Forbes brings his message to Irvine

The former presidential candidate backs Prop. 227, which would curb bilingual education.

IRVINE – Steve Forbes, magazine publisher and a 1996 Republican presidential candidate, came campaigning to Orange County once again on Thursday.

In a wide-ranging 35-minute speech before 600 people at the Orange County Business Council’s annual meeting, Forbes stumped for a number of issues and spoke extensively in favor of Proposition 227. The measure would curtail much of the bilingual education in California’s public schools.

It was Forbes’ second visit to this Republican stronghold in the past six months. The millionaire publisher has left the door open for a 2000 presidential bid and has maintained a high public profile since his last run, attacking the income tax, the International Monetary Fund and Internet regulation.

On Thursday night, Forbes added California state propositions to his agenda, focusing on Prop. 227.

“English, to be blunt, is the language of economic opportunity, not only here, but around the globe,” Forbes told the audience at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. “If you know English, the information age is your friend. If you know English, the doors of opportunity are wide open.”

Forbes boasted of the bipartisan support that the measure has received. But that support is hardly universal.

“We need two languages for every person, not one,” said Delaine Eastin, the state superintendent of public instruction who is seeking re-election to the nonpartisan office. “In the global economy, English-only is a formula for no sales.”

On Thursday, Forbes also spoke in support of Proposition 226, which would require union members to approve use of their dues for political campaigning.

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