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Whitman Breaks Spending Record, Faces Tough Crowd In San Francisco

GOP candidate for governor Meg Whitman has now broken a campaign spending record She faced some tough questions about that, and a host of other issues at a San Francisco campaign stop Wednesday.

Capital Public Radio is co-sponsoring the first gubernatorial debate between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown September 28th.

Meg Whitman has added another $15 million of her own wealth to her campaign war chest bringing the total she’s pitched in to $119 million. That sets a new record for a self-funded candidate in the United States, surpassing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Most polls put the race between Whitman and Democratic opponent Jerry Brown very close. Does the former Ebay CEO think she’s getting her money’s worth?

“I believe I have," said Whitman. "You know, I’ve been running now for two years and I’ve invested in an entire campaign but I am delighted with where we are.”

Whitman says given Brown’s name recognition and the fact that labor unions are also spending money on his behalf, her money is a good investment.

“You can’t underestimate the union spending," said Whitman. "They’ve spent $15 million or $16 million to date and it take s a lot of money to be competitive in California.”

Whitman made the comments at an intense campaign stop in San Francisco. She spoke to several hundred employees at Yelp, a consumer review website, and took some pretty tough questions from them. For instance, this one from 24 year-old Yelp sales employee Susan McKay.

“Why would you both knowingly and purposely run a campaign that is based on lies?" asked McKay. "Also, why have you made smear tactics and an overall negative focus such hallmarks of your campaign? It doesn’t seem to me that defaming your opponent is going to help California’s problems in any way.”

McKay was referring to a Whitman ad that features former President Bill Clinton criticizing Jerry Brown’s record on taxes during a 1992 Presidential Primary debate. Clinton’s comments were based on a CNN story, which the reporter now says wasn’t entirely accurate. Here’s part of Whitman’s answer:

“The essentials of that ad are absolutely true and so my view is I have to as a serious candidate for Governor, point out Jerry Brown’s real record,” she said.

McKay said she wasn’t satisfied with Whitman’s reply. The candidate also got questions about her stance on same-sex marriage – which she opposes, and her record-breaking spending. Jerry Brown has said the fact that Whitman has outspent him so dramatically, yet the polls remain fairly even, means Californians may have stopped listening to her message.

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