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Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Face Off

Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Face Off
Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner discuss their qualifications to run California in a statewide debate hosted by the California Report.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): This hour, KPBS is bringing you a special rebroadcast of a debate between two Republicans who want to be the next governor of California, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. It’s hosted by the California Report in San Jose. It’s the Republican Gubernatorial Debate this hour on KPBS.

JOHN MYERS (Moderator): I’m John Myers of KQED Public Radio and The California Report. I’m the moderator for this debate. Thank you for being with us. In a moment, I’m going to introduce the two candidates who will be participating and go over the ground rules but first let me introduce the journalists on tonight’s panel. They are: Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle; Santiago Lucero of Univision; Michael Blood, the Associated Press; Jack Chang of the Sacramento Bee; and Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune. And without further ado, let’s bring out those two candidates who you’ll be hearing from tonight, both vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on June 8th, Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman. (applause) Thank you very much. Steve Poizner is currently California State Insurance Commissioner, Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay. And let me remind both of the candidates and also let our audience tonight know of the rules for the debate, which were negotiated by the sponsors of the debate and the campaigns. The candidates will be asked questions by the journalists. For each question, they will have 2 minutes to answer. The challenger will then get 1 minute for rebuttal. At the end, closing statements will be 2 minutes each. Now the order for the questions was determined beforehand. There are no opening statements in this debate tonight. As such, I know—I just know—each of you are dying to thank everyone involved here and make some kind of opening statement so let’s assume it’s been done if we can and just get – I always say to get right into the questions that Californians want to hear about. The first question tonight actually comes from me; it’s the only one I will ask. And, Ms. Whitman, it goes to you. Last week the Franchise Tax Board reported that in 2008 the median household income in California was just under $69,000. That same year, Forbes magazine estimated your personal wealth at $1.3 billion. There’s a vast difference between the life that you lead and the lives of millions of people in the state lead, the people that you want to govern. So my question to you, what do you say to average folks who may doubt that a super-wealthy person really gets the sacrifices that they make?

MEG WHITMAN (Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, State of California): Well, good, well, let me – Well, thank you very much for the cable TV broadcaster for this debate, and thanks to the Tech Museum. Gosh, it’s fun to be back in my hometown here. So, you know, I have been very fortunate in my career but it was not always like this. When my husband and I moved to California in 1981, he was a resident at the University of California at San Francisco, and I was a new consultant at Bain and Company. So we have been remarkably successful but in many ways we embody the California dream. And, you know, what I see every day on the campaign trail, I’ve spent the last year and a half talking to individuals about their lives, I’ve been to their place of business, I’ve been to their homes. And what I see is deep anxiety around unemployment. People are desperately concerned they’re going to lose their job. They’ve seen a company move out of their area. They’ve worried they can’t send their child back to UC because fees have gone up by 32% and one of their parents have lost a job. So I see, every day on the campaign trail how tough it is for Californians, and in the end that is the reason I am running for governor, because I know California can be better than it is. We can create the California dream again. We can make sure that everyone has a fair shot for an ability for a great education, the ability to get a great job, the ability to move up and out. You know, what’s true about America and true about California, it’s not about where you’ve been, it’s about where you’re going. And that is why I’m running, because I think California can be better than it is and I see it every day on the campaign trail and I deeply understand the challenges that every Californian faces.

MYERS: Mr. Poizner, you get one minute, and maybe you could take a stab at this as well because you’re a multimillionaire, as people know. How do you relate to the average Californian?

STEVE POIZNER (Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, State of California): Well, I started small businesses in Silicon Valley. I know what it’s like to start with nothing and build new companies from scratch and to employ lots of people and to make sure everyone in California that ever worked for me had the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels. But I say that, I think there’s a big difference, though, between Meg Whitman and me with regards to understanding what it’s like coming from the trenches. And the working folks in California, I don’t think necessarily is something that Meg Whitman fully and completely understands how to relate to. And that’s why this Goldman Sachs issue this week is a big issue, because the fact is Meg Whitman has massive investments in Goldman Sachs, made huge amounts of money from the collapse of the housing market and then when it was time for Goldman Sachs to get bailed out by taxpayers, Meg Whitman actively campaigned for taxpayer funded bailout to save Goldman Sachs from going bankrupt. My question for Meg, of course, is that did she inform people that she had this massive conflict of interest? That the $10 billion that went into Goldman Sachs from taxpayers, did she let people know that her investment portfolio was going to be saved at the same time?

MYERS: That’s one minute, Mr. Poizner.

POIZNER: The fact is, lots of people got damaged because of Goldman Sachs. Meg Whitman’s right in the middle of it. That’s just a fact.

MYERS: Okay, and let’s move, if we could, to the next question and, again, the audience if you’ll indulge us to hold your applause. Now to the panel for the questions tonight, and a question from Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. This one goes to Steve Poizner.

CARLA MARINUCCI (Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle): Mr. Poizner, good evening. The new Arizona immigrantion law is the toughest in the country and last week you said you would watch closely how it’s implemented and whether it has a positive result. And we understand that just even a few minutes ago you have come out in support of that law. Why the shift, if so, and what about the charges that this law encourages racial profiling? Bottom law (sic), as California governor, would you have signed this law as it now stands, yes or no?

POIZNER: Yes. So a few days ago, I was concerned about the Arizona law. Fact is, the Arizona law, the way it was originally structured, there was a concern from my point of view about racial profiling. Then just yesterday the governor signs some amendments, they just amended the law. Now they’ve taken care, from my point of view, of any concerns about racial profiling. I support what’s going on in Arizona. They’ve taken finally the power in their own hands to do something about the problems of illegal immigration in Arizona. The federal government wasn’t taking care of it. And so finally the people of Arizona decided to step up and take care of it themselves. Now as you know, if you’ve been following my campaign, I believe there’s a serious problem with illegal immigration in this state and it’s about time that we had some people running for office that had the – has the guts to talk about the honest truth here. The truth is that legal immigration has been fantastic for the state of California. Illegal immigration, on the other hand’s a serious issue, billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer funded benefits to people that come here illegally each and every year. We simply can’t afford it. We’re now bankrupt, we’re out of cash, and we need to take some steps to stop the flow of people who come here illegally. Now Meg Whitman and I, major differences here. She believes in amnesty, I don’t. She doesn’t want to stop all the taxpayer funded benefits for people who come here illegally, I do. We all know her three priorities, we’ve heard it a million times. I dream about it now, I’ve heard it so many times. One of her priorities is not dealing with illegal immigration. It is one of my top priorities, so now voters have a choice. Do you want to nominate a Republican who’ll make dealing with the problems of illegal immigration a high priority, yes or no?


POIZNER: I have a four-part plan. Number one, stop all the taxpayer funded benefits to people that are here illegally. Cut that magnet off. Number two, as governor I’m going to enforce the rules with employers. If you hire people in the state of California when I’m governor, they better be legal or I’ll revoke your business license. Number three, I’m going to crack down on sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities should not shield people—criminals—from law enforcement officials. And last but not least, I’ll do a much better job of securing the border. I’ll send the National Guard to the border if that’s what I have to do.

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Poizner. Ms. Whitman, your rebuttal on the Arizona immigration law.

WHITMAN: Well, I think what you’ve just seen is a classic case of Steve Poizner changing his mind. Just last week, he was against the law, now he is for it. And this is the record you have seen. Since Steve Poizner ran for Assembly in 2004, he has changed his position on virtually every important thing. He was against the Bush tax cuts for lower personal income tax and now he’s against it (sic). He was, you know, against Prop 13, now he’s for it. He was the only person who got 100% Planned Parenthood approval rating, now he says that—which, of course, required that you agree with partial birth abortion and other things—and now he is against it. But let me tell you what I would do. You know, I understand the frustrations that Arizona has on this law but if it came to me, I would actually oppose the law and that’s because I have a better plan to stop illegal immigration in California. I want to, first of all – you are dead wrong. I am 100% against amnesty, no exceptions. And I will secure the border. I will build an economic fence to keep employers from hiring illegal aliens, and I will make sure that we eliminate sanctuary cities. If we…

MYERS: That’s one minute.

WHITMAN: …do those three things, we will solve the immigration problem in a way that I think uniquely suits California.

MYERS: Thank you, Ms. Whitman, and let’s move on to our next question now from Santiago Lucero of Univision, and it’s for Meg Whitman.

SANTIAGO LUCERO (Reporter, Univision): Good evening, Ms. Whitman. Your campaign website states that you’re 100% opposed to any form of amnesty for unauthorized immigrants in this country. But a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, 70% of voters support immigrant reform that includes a path for legalization for these immigrants who have been living here and working for at least two years. My question is for you, are you on the wrong side of voters when it comes to this issue?

WHITMAN: You know, I don’t think I am on the right – wrong side of voters. I talk to voters about this every single day and people are desperately concerned about the fact that our borders have been open for many, many years and the federal government has not stepped in in the way they should. I think that’s why you saw what happened in Arizona. So I think what we’ve got to do is we, you know, we have got to get control of the illegal immigration problem. And as I said, what I want to do is I am 100% against amnesty. I want to secure the borders. I want to build an economic fence, and I want to eliminate sanctuary cities. But I can’t leave this subject, of course, without reminding everyone that legal immigration built this country. Right here in California, we need more H1B visas. In the central valley, we need a guest worker program that works for the agricultural industry. But I think before we can talk about what happens longer term, we have got to prove to the American people that the federal government can secure this border. And that is the most important thing that I think we can do.

MYERS: Steve Poizner, one minute, please, on the rebuttal.

POIZNER: Well, Meg, you said on the San Diego, California border, you said people that are here illegally should have a pathway, to get to the end of the line, pay a fine, and then that’s the pathway to citizenship. That’s amnesty. Now you can deny that’s what the word means, look it up. So the fact is, Meg Whitman does support amnesty. I know what the polls say but the fact is the last time this country provided amnesty was in 1986. There was about 3 million people that were here illegally then. They were granted amnesty. That was supposed to take care of our problem with illegal immigration once and for all. What happened? We now have 12 million-plus people here illegally. Amnesty is a huge magnet and it’s a mistake. So are taxpayer funded benefits, that’s a huge magnet. That’s a mistake. Allowing employers to hire people here illegally, that’s a huge magnet, and that’s a mistake. As governor, I’m going to take steps to address the problems of illegal immigration once and for all. There’s a choice here. I mean, clearly Meg Whitman has not made this a priority. Clearly, Meg Whitman supports some form of amnesty. Meg Whitman does not support stopping all the taxpayer funded benefits. There’s just difference between the two of us. That’s fine.

MYERS: That’s one minute.

POIZNER: It’s one you can choose.

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Poizner. And the next question is for Steve Poizner and it comes from Michael Blood of the Associated Press.

MICHAEL BLOOD (Reporter, Associated Press): The Tea Party movement has been the talk of the nation but in this race it’s rarely been mentioned. My question for each of you, are you a Tea Partier, yes or no, and will the ideas being promoted by this movement be good for California?

POIZNER: Yes, I’ve been to a whole bunch of Tea Parties and spoken at at least five. I find myself really in synch with the Tea Party movement. I really embrace their – some of their basic principles. They talk about individual liberty and personal responsibility. They’re passionate about the free market system and they are angry, not just Republicans, by the way, the people who show up to these Tea Party events are Democrats and Independents alike. People in the state of California really, they’ve had enough with the dysfunction in Sacramento. You know, this is the worst economic crisis maybe in the history of the – 160-year history of our state. Our unemployment rate, if you add in all the people who just quit looking for jobs and all the people who are underemployed, it’s close to 20%. That’s four million Californians that are either underemployed or unemployed. This is Depression level misery and people are angry and they want change. So there’s some differences between the two of us in this campaign, some big differences in our background, in our character, and in our vision of where we want to take the state of California. I love going to these Tea Party events because I outline my passion for taking California in a completely different direction and that’s what a lot of people inside and outside of the Tea Party movement are looking for, bold change. Half measures simply won’t do.

MYERS: And a rebuttal from Ms. Whitman. Ms. Whitman, maybe I can direct it for Michael Blood. Are you a supporter of the Tea Party movement?

WHITMAN: I am a supporter. You know what the Tea Partiers really want as I talk to them? They are, at their core, fiscal conservatives. And you will not find a more determined, more tough fiscal conservative than me in this race. They are desperately concerned about the debt that we are running up federally and in California, they are desperately concerned that we are violating the cardinal rule that you cannot spend more money than you take in. And this actually is a difference between me and Steve Poizner. Steve Poizner actually gave $200,000 of his own money to weaken Prop 13. He was against, as I said, the Bush tax cuts. So – And spending is – in his Department of Insurance went up by 14%. He bought nearly $2 million worth of cars in a recession where we shouldn’t have been buying any cars at all. So if the Tea Partiers and any Californians are looking for the tough fiscal conservative in this race, I promise you it is me. I have balanced budgets. I have made those tough tradeoffs. I know how to do more with less. I know how to use technology to make us better. And I’ve outlined a plan for cutting $15 billion worth of spending…

MYERS: It’s one minute.

WHITMAN: …out of the California budget, and I will get it done. And if we can get our fiscal house in order by cutting spending, then I think the Tea Partiers and every other Californian will be delighted.

MYERS: Thank you. Thank you, Ms. Whitman. And our next question is for Meg Whitman and it comes from Jack Chang of the Sacramento Bee.

JACK CHANG (Reporter, Sacramento Bee): Ms. Whitman, you have run ads accusing Steve Poizner of increasing spending at the Department of Insurance by 14% yet when comparing the last budget Mr. Poizner’s predecessor approved, the current year budget, spending there actually dropped 13%. Your ad, instead, uses the second-to-last budget his predecessor approved and the budget from a year ago. Given all that, do you believe you’re presenting an accurate picture of Mr. Poizner’s spending record at the Department of Insurance?

WHITMAN: And that’s me, right?

MYERS: Yes, it is.


MYERS: It’s two minutes.

WHITMAN: Absolutely, I do. And there has been a lot of controversy over this but if you look at the numbers and you look at the entire budget that Steve was responsible for, you can’t play Sacramento games where you only talk about part of the budget that you were responsible for. You have to talk about all the budget that you’re responsible for. And the truth is, the budget went from $190 million to $216 million. And when budget cuts were made, actually they were made by Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he and his spokesman said just the other day. So the truth is, you know, Sacramento politicians, Sacramento bureaucrats, can make all kinds of claims but actually the numbers don’t lie. And I know that the Sacramento Bee didn’t necessarily agree but the San Jose Mercury News did. So my view is that’s the truth. But I think you just have to look at the two candidates and say who do you trust to be the fiscal conservative? Who – You know, I was successful in business for 30 years because I stuck to core conservative fiscal principles. I know how to do more with less. I know how to use technology. And I will take on, by the way, the public employee unions and we will not be able to stop the red ink in California unless we stand up to the unions, decrease the number of state employees, revise the entire pension program. That is part of the way that we are going to get back to fiscal health. We also have an opportunity to reform the welfare program. You probably know we have about 12% of the population in the United States but 32% of the welfare cases. We have five times the welfare cases of New York even though we only have two times the population of New York. So we have got to reform this welfare program. If we do not, we will have weaker communities and we will not be able to afford what we have. The truth is, we have a government we can no longer afford and we have got to take this up because if we do not decrease the spending, we are going to be out of business here. And so I will be a leader taking on the public service employee unions and making sure we achieve those $15 billion worth of cuts.

MYERS: And a one minute rebuttal, Mr. Poizner, on those campaign ads.

POIZNER: I’ve got a lot to cover here in just a minute, unfortunately. Fact is, Meg Whitman, you just do not know what you’re talking about. The Sacramento Bee audited the information about my budget at the Department of Insurance more than once. They called you a liar—that’s their words, not mine—not once but twice. The fact is my operating budget has shrunk permanently by 15%, just a fact. Come on over to the Department of Insurance, I’ll show any of you. My budget is down. I now have a huge surplus at the Department of Insurance. I’ve passed this surplus back in the marketplace with tax cuts about, oh, close to $20 million worth will be passed back in the economy through my right-sizing. I think you’re looking at the only person in Sacramento history that’s ever downsized anything. I’m proud of it. And I’m going to do the same thing to all of the other 400 different departments and agencies that I did at the Department of Insurance. And with the few second left, let me just talk about all of this – these attacks from 2004. They’re also false, misleading half-truths. We saw all the mudslinging going on in this campaign. She spent $10 million really trying to smear my reputation about 2004. That’s just wrong.

MYERS: That’s one minute.

POIZNER: I – Yeah.

MYERS: That’s a good spot. That’s a good spot.

POIZNER: To be continued, please.

MYERS: I think you’ll have more time to talk about those issues. The next question is for Steve Poizner, and it comes from Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune.

POIZNER: Can I just continue, Josh?

JOSH RICHMAN (Reporter, Oakland Tribune): Mr. Poizner…


RICHMAN: ...California’s seen a rise of the open carry movement in which gun enthusiasts say they’re exercising their constitutional rights in defending their personal safety by carrying unloaded firearms in plain sight in public places. Appending bills supported by groups including the California Police Chiefs Association, would essentially make this practice illegal. Are the police chiefs wrong to support this ban? And if so, why?

POIZNER: So let me just finish and then I’ll get to your answer.

MYERS: Quickly, please.

POIZNER: The fact is, it is preposterous that someone like Meg Whitman would be attacking me for my record in 2004. In 2004, many of you know, I was here running for the State Assembly, proud to be carrying the Republican banner. I knocked on over 10,000 doors and I registered over 10,000 Republicans, running for the State Assembly and a seat that was considered to be impossible to win by a Republican. Now I’m proud of my Republican credentials. What was Meg Whitman doing in the last few years?

MYERS: I think that’s the spot to pivot, Mr. Poizner, to his question.

POIZNER: In 2000, Meg Whitman endorsed Al Gore for president. In 2004, when I was knocking on doors, Meg Whitman endorsed Barbara Boxer, went to – worked on her campaign…

MYERS: Mr. Poizner, can we get to his question about the gun law?

POIZNER: Yes, we can.

MYERS: Okay.

POIZNER: But there’s a lot of attacks. I just had to correct the record. Gore, Boxer and Van Jones, if you can just answer for the Republican base out there why you supported all those people I think the Republican base would appreciate it. With regards to guns…

MYERS: Thank you.

POIZNER: …I’m a proud supporter of the Second Amendment. I think the Second Amendment is crystal clear. People have a right to own and bear arms. And I oppose any new gun laws that would restrict people’s rights to fulfill their Second Amendment privileges. And I did this all within two minutes.

MYERS: So you – I want to make sure we understand, Mr. Poizner. You support this idea, this proposal on concealed weapons?

POIZNER: I don’t support…

MYERS: The police chiefs are wrong.

POIZNER: I don’t support any more gun laws. We have plenty of gun laws. We should focus on implementing the current set of gun laws. We don’t want to restrict the right of people to fulfill their Second Amendment rights. I feel pretty passionate about that.

MYERS: Thank you. And, Ms. Whitman, one minute, please.

WHITMAN: I agree on the gun law issue, so I don’t think we need to spend much time on that. You know what, there is only one liberal Republican on the stage tonight, and it is not me. Steve Poizner called himself an Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican when he ran for Assembly – or, when he ran for Insurance Commissioner. And now that Governor Schwarzenegger’s not so popular anymore, he is, you know, absolutely running the opposite direction. It is true that he has changed his position on virtually everything because he will say and do anything to get elected. What happened in 2004, he was running in a Democrat district so he was against taxes. He was against the Iraq war. He was for taxes, he was against the Iraq war. It is simply remarkable where he has gone every single, down the line change in his position. So he can deny it but the fact is it’s absolutely true. With regard to Barbara Boxer, you know what, I did support Barbara Boxer because she was on the right side of one issue.

MYERS: That’s one minute.

WHITMAN: It may have been the only issue that she was on the right side of but she was against new taxes on the internet, which was absolutely essential to eBay employees, eBay shareholders or, most importantly, eBay sellers. So I joined with a group of technology executives…

MYERS: That’s one minute.

WHITMAN: …to support her on that one issue.

MYERS: Thank you, Ms. Whitman, that’s one minute. And that’s the first round of questions. We’re having a good time, so let’s keep going. (applause) We’ll now begin a – Thank you. We’ll begin a second round of questions, a second round of questions in this Republican gubernatorial debate from San Jose. We begin with a question for Meg Whitman from Carla Marinucci.

MARINUCCI: Meg, in 2005 you settled an eBay shareholder lawsuit regarding the spinning of IPO shares offered to you by Goldman Sachs. In your book, “The Power of Many,” you say that the board at eBay, quote, urged me to fight these suits because they knew I had done nothing wrong. This week, you acknowledge the appearance of conflict of interest in this practice and you said you wouldn’t do it again. You did note that it was legal at the time but spinning was made illegal. So do you still believe, as you said in your book, that you did nothing wrong? And was your behavior unethical, yes or no?

WHITMAN: So I am a Main Street executive, not a Wall Street executive. I’ve spent my career at companies like Hasbro and Procter & Gamble and eBay, which created a platform where more than a million small businesses make their living. So here’s the facts on Goldman Sachs. I was on the board 8 years ago for 15 short months and I got off because, as Donald Trump says, I fired them. I didn’t like the culture. I didn’t like the management, and I got off. With regard to IPO shares, I did receive IPO shares because we had a brokerage account with Goldman Sachs, and we did make money on that, about $1.8 million. And it was a very legal, very standard practice at the time. When it was called into question, I actually ended up giving those profits back to charity and to eBay. And you know what the lesson learned here is? You have to be above reproach. Legal leaders have to always look for conflicts of interest or perceived conflicts of interest. I did not actually see a conflict of interest here. It was a completely separate account who had nothing to do with eBay’s banking business. But the truth is, leaders have to be above reproach. There can be no real or perceived conflict of interest. And so in my administration, we will put our assets into a blind trust, we will make sure that there are no real or perceived conflicts of interest. So that is the facts on Goldman Sachs.

MYERS: Would you – I’m sorry, Ms. Whitman, just to clarify for Ms. Marinucci’s question, you do not believe you did anything wrong. I think she asked you yes or no.

WHITMAN: No, I did not…

MYERS: Okay…

WHITMAN: …do anything…

MYERS: …thank you.

WHITMAN: …wrong. It was a legal and standard practice.

MYERS: Thank you.

WHITMAN: With twenty-twenty hindsight, would I do it again? No, because it was called into question. And I could see then, afterwards, what the conflict looked like. But in the time that I did it, it is not that I looked and said, this is wrong, this is right, let’s do something wrong.

MYERS: Thank you. Mr. Poizner, one minute rebuttal.

POIZNER: Wow, you really don’t get this, Meg. This is a situation where you were the CEO of eBay receiving investment banking services from Goldman Sachs then you joined the Goldman Sachs board and the compensation committee then Goldman Sachs started to feed you these sweetheart deals, not one, not two, but a hundred of them. And you made a fortune, a separate fortune from your eBay fortune. And then until you got caught, you didn’t think anything was wrong. The fact is, Congress investigated what you did; they called it corrupt. The SEC investigated what you did and immediately declared what you did illegal. And the eBay shareholders investigated what you did and they sued you, and they sued you for a huge conflict of interest. The only reason why you paid back any of this money is because you had to settle the lawsuit. This campaign really is going to come down to a few things: judgment, character, ethics, track record and vision. And the fact is, your judgment was just terrible back then and you’re still not admitting the fact that you had a huge conflict of interest, you exploited it and you made millions, personally, from it. It was just wrong.

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Poizner. Let’s move on to our next question. It is from Santiago Lucero and is for Steve Poizner.

LUCERO: I just want to go back to the 2004 race. When you were running for the 21st Assembly District, you said in an interview, I’m a frustrated moderate Republican. At the time, you were pro-gay rights and even supported raising taxes. Now you’re a different Poizner. Why should voters believe you and your campaign when a few years ago you were totally different and obviously a more liberal candidate?

POIZNER: Well, thank you for asking because Meg’s been talking about it all evening here, too. The fact is, I’ve always been a conservative person but I’ll tell you this, I’ve gotten more conservative ever since I’ve been Insurance Commissioner. I’ve been Insurance Commissioner for three and a half years in Sacramento. I’ve seen firsthand the culture of corruption and I’ve seen firsthand the wasted taxes and the out-of-control spending. I have gotten more conservative since 2004. Our unemployment rate in California has doubled since 2004, there’s no question about that. Now the fact is, compare what I was doing in 2004 to Meg. Now, see, that’s why I find it really amazing that she would criticize me. She wasn’t even a Republican in 2004. She said that she didn’t want to join the Republican Party because it might hurt her business career. And she just said something also amazing I think I need to point out. She said she endorsed Barbara Boxer in 2004 while at the same time I was knocking on doors carrying the Republican flag, registering Republicans. She endorsed Barbara Boxer in 2004 for just one reason, you just heard it, because Barbara Boxer – she convinced Barbara Boxer to take a certain position on an internet tax that would personally benefit her and her investment – investor friends at eBay. That’s the reason to endorse Barbara Boxer? The most – one of the most liberal senators in our country? The senator who has 100%, you know, approval ratings from the unions, the senator who supports all these tax increases and is an extremist in many ways. Is that the way you make decisions about who to endorse? I mean, Barbara Boxer, to endorse Barbara Boxer, to campaign for Barbara Boxer after she endorsed Al Gore in 2000, who are you really? I mean, the Republican base is looking for a Republican that has a track record. Actions speak louder than words. And, Meg, I think you have to explain a little bit more. How does your endorsement of Al Gore in 2000, your campaigning for Barbara Boxer in 2004, your support for Van Jones, who’s such an extremist when it comes to environmental policy that even President Obama had to fire him, how does all that fit into being a Republican?

MYERS: Ms. Whitman, your rebuttal. One minute.

WHITMAN: Well, I think you characterized Steve’s record beautifully. Steve is an engineer. He engineers a new position for every office that he’s running for. Every election cycle, Steve engineers a new position. Whatever suits him at the time to see whether he can get elected, that’s what he does. And actually Steve endorsed Al Gore. By the way, I did not endorse Al Gore. I voted for George Bush. I gave money to George Bush’s campaign. There was some random newspaper report that said I endorsed Al Gore. I did not. Steve Poizner wrote a $21,000 check to Al Gore and $10,000 of that went to the recount in Florida. So, you know what, there’s an issue there as well. So my view here is, you know what this race is really about? This race, in my view, is about the things that Californians care most about and that is cutting government spending, getting Californians back to work, and fixing our K-thru-12 education system. We have got to focus on what matters to Californians. And you know the legislature today has a 9% approval rating. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers, and we are not doing the business of Californians. So let’s focus on what really matters to Californians, which is getting them back to work, improving…

MYERS: That’s one minute.

WHITMAN: …the economy, and fixing our K-thru-12 education system.

MYERS: Thank you. And, Michael Blood, the next question, and it goes to Meg Whitman.

BLOOD: California has more than 8 million people without medical coverage. Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger said it was time to stop the political fighting and he announced his support for Washington’s healthcare overhaul. If elected, would you dismantle the system that Schwarzenegger is now setting up and if we repeal the federal law, what should replace it?

WHITMAN: So I am not for the federal healthcare bill, as you might imagine. I am not for the individual mandate but I am really not for this because what it does to California. This is going to put a $3 billion unfunded mandate on our budget, which already has a $20 billion budget deficit over the next 16 months. It’s also a tax on small business. If you own a small business with more than 50 employees, you’re going to have to provide health insurance in a way that probably you can’t afford right now. So here’s what I would encourage our attorney general to do who, by the way, Jerry Brown has no intention of doing this. But we should – he should actually join the lawsuit to repeal this law in Washington and start again. We should try to cover more Americans, we should allow people to get insurance who have preexisting conditions, there’s no question about it. But I think of healthcare really in three ways. There’s access, there’s cost and there’s quality. And if all you do is increase access and you don’t work the hard business of cost and quality, then you will get into a program that you cannot afford. And my view is that this is going to cost America over a trillion dollars and it’s going to actually continue to hurt California from a budgetary point of view. So I would’ve taken smaller steps. I would’ve said, okay, people with pre-existing conditions, let’s let them into insurance. In California, we should have more insurance companies compete. There should be cross-border competition for insurance in California with high standards but I think that would make a big difference as well. And then we should put technology to work on electronic medical records so that we can identify the best demonstrated practices across our medical system so that we can start to bring down the cost of the system, increase the quality so that we are in a position to, over time, improve access. But we simply cannot afford the government program right now.

MYERS: Steve Poizner, one minute.

POIZNER: Have I mentioned Barbara Boxer yet? Yes, well, the fact is she’s one of the people in the U.S. Senate that helped lead the charge on this Obama care overhaul. And, well, thanks, Meg, for that. Obama care, let’s just be clear, I think’s one of the worst pieces of public policy coming out of Washington, D.C. in 50 years. A trillion dollars of new spending, a half a trillion dollars of new taxes, and a three or four billion dollar additional unfunded mandate on California. So we used to have a $20 billion budget deficit before Obama care, now we have $24 billion budget deficit now. This law, this reform, is wrong. It violates, I think, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, the states’ rights amendment. I do support the other 19 attorneys general that want to try to repeal this law and return power back to the state where it belongs. Now, you may have been following my work with Anthem Blue Cross. I do appreciate getting an insurance question here since I’m insurance commissioner. The fact is Anthem Blue Cross has 57% marketshare here in California. They did try to ratchet up rates and I didn’t let them. The fact is they were playing with the numbers, the numbers weren’t correct. We do need more competition in California so that we get these health insurance companies to drive down costs…

MYERS: It’s one minute.

POIZNER: …but keep quality. That’s why I also support the interstate sales of health insurance that would instantly raise the level of competition in California. That’d be a great thing.

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Poizner. Next question is from Jack Chang and it’s for Steve Poizner.

CHANG: Mr. Poizner, you are backing a voter initiative that would suspend the state law AB-32 that would require the state cut carbon and other gas emissions. With that in mind, do you personally believe human activity is causing global climate change? And how does that view on climate change influence your position on AB-32 and I’d ask the same to Ms. Whitman.

POIZNER: Well, first of all, global warming is called global warming, right? It’s not called state warming. When California tries to put in place these extreme environmental rules that stick out like a sore thumb, we pay a price and so does the environment. Now, the fact is, no other state’s following in our path to implement these rather Draconian, global warming rules and carbon taxes. India and China’s made crystal clear that they’re not going to follow suit either. So now you have California by itself, and what happens when we impose these new taxes and restrictions that you just find here in California? What happens is, of course, jobs leave. The manufacturing sector won’t put up with it. They end up going into the Midwest in some cases. In the Midwest – here’s the irony. In the Midwest, there’s more of a dependence on dirty, coal burning fire plants. So AB-32, in my opinion, will make our economy a lot worse. Jobs will leave, are leaving at a rapid clip now, it’ll even accelerate. But it’ll also mess up the environment because we’ll end up using more coal burning fire plants to generate the electricity. I’m for suspending AB-32 until our unemployment rate is 5.5% or less for four straight quarters. It’s a must or it’s just going to crush our economy. Now, here again, Meg and I have some differences. I know you’ve heard plenty about the differences tonight but here’s another area where Meg needs to be clear where she really stands. The fact is she did take a global warming boat cruise in 2008 during the middle of the presidential election to the Arctic with this guy Van Jones. I’ve mentioned him a couple times. Now on this boat cruise, Meg claims to have gotten to know him well and told Carla on film that she’s a big fan of Van Jones. Meg, you said this less than a year ago, that you liked his work. Now Van Jones is such an extremist when it comes to the environment, he’s just completely out of synch with anyone who would want to have any balance when it comes to environmental policy.

MYERS: That’s two minutes, Mr. Poizner. And, Mr. Poizner, before Ms. Whitman begins, Jack Chang’s question was climate change, manmade or not, yes or no?

POIZNER: I think it’s – the sciences is still out on that. And I…

MYERS: Okay.

POIZNER: …don’t think it really matters by the way…

MYERS: That’s…

POIZNER: …whether it is or isn’t. We need to have a new energy…

MYERS: That’s – that’s…

POIZNER: …policy to become energy independent, that’s for sure, regardless of how the clients – the climate science turns out.

MYERS: Let’s stop right there. Thank you.


MYERS: Ms. Whitman, one minute.

WHITMAN: So I think I gotta come back to Anthem for a moment because Steve mentioned that he had stopped Anthem. Actually, what Steve Poizner did is he gave the federal government exhibit A that helped pass this overall healthcare bill because it came to his desk in November, he didn’t do anything about it, and then it exploded on the scene and gave President Obama and Nancy Pelosi exhibit A to help get this healthcare passed. If he’d been on the job, that would not have happened. With regard to this global warming, I do think the scientists say that the earth is getting warmer. Whether it is manmade or not, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. But what I do know is, we are disadvantaging California once again. The biggest problem that we have in the business climate in California is we’re a high-cost state, high taxes, high regulation, and this is going to drive businesses out of California. So I think we can be smart and green but my view is let’s put a moratorium on AB-32 for a year, let’s make sure we know what’s happening here. And, by the way, I think we have to compete for these green jobs in a very different way. You know who wants our green jobs? Colorado and Texas. The number two city in America for green jobs is Houston, Texas.

MYERS: One minute.

WHITMAN: They have nothing like AB-32. Let’s do targeted tax cuts, let’s keep those green jobs here, but let’s not do it…

MYERS: Thank you.

WHITMAN: …by driving businesses out of this – out of state.

MYERS: Thank you. Next question is for Ms. Whitman from Josh Richman.

RICHMAN: Ms. Whitman, you spoke earlier of fixing K-12 education. California ranks toward the bottom of the heap in per-pupil school spending. If you believe public schools already have enough money to educate our children and prepare them for college and the workplace, how do you answer parents who are now concerned about increases to class size, the 20,000 pink slips sent to teachers, the lack of art, music, nurses and counselors in many schools and the elimination of summer school happening across the state?

WHITMAN: You know what, I think we do have enough money to educate our children well. It is – the problem is how this money is spent. And the truth is, we have got to, first and foremost, get more money into the classroom. Today, of the $70 billion that we spend at the state, federal, local level for K-thru-12 education in California, only 60% of it goes to the classroom. That means 40% goes to administration and overhead. Can you imagine running your businesses with 40% administration and overhead? So let’s get more money into the classroom and then let’s empower local school districts. We have an education code that is 5,000 pages long. The educrats in Sacramento are telling our school districts how to buy blackboards. So let’s allocate the money on a per-child or per-classroom basis and hold those school districts accountable for educating the children and spending the money then the way that they see best. Then we’ve got to give parents the tools to hold those school districts accountable. And I’m in favor of grading every single public school A through F, a simple letter grade, every middle school, every high school, every elementary school, and telling the parents. They did this in Florida, by the way, which has now moved up to about number six in the overall education ratings in all 50 states. And diversity is not the challenge. What they’ve proven is demography is not destiny. So let’s tell the parents what the grade is for their schools, let’s increase the number of charter schools. In Florida, if you are an F school for three years, you automatically turn into a charter school. And then last but not least, we have to pay the gems of our education system, the teachers, more. We’ve got to find the great teachers and we’ve got to pay them more because they are the ones that are doing the job with the children every single day. So that’s the plan. I think it will work. It has worked in Florida. They went from being rated in the high thirties out of 50 states, to being roughly rated six out of 50 states while we, as you said, are rated near the bottom. We can do better and we must do better because, as I said, America’s about where you – not where you’ve been but where you’re going. And our public education system is essential to that.

MYERS: Thank you. Steve Poizner on education issues in California.

POIZNER: Nothing more important than getting our public education system back on track. We’ll never fix California schools until we take some major steps here to change the way we run the schools. I know there’s some teachers out here I see. One of the reasons why I’m running for governor is that I’m going to rip control of the public schools out of the hands of Sacramento politicians who micromanage the schools. I’m going to move it down to the local level where it belongs and where it used to be. Now I’m so convinced and passionate about local control of schools, which we used to have in the sixties when we had the best public education system in the country. I’ve gone off and helped pioneer the California charter school movement. I’m really proud of this. I’m the founder of the California Charter Schools Association. I helped build a whole bunch of charter schools. So it’s not just rhetoric to me, I’ve actually been in the trenches, I’ve done it as a volunteer teacher and as a pioneer in the charter school movement. See, charter schools are public schools that have been granted waivers from the 2,000 page education code. It’s the ultimate in local control. There’s over 800 charter schools in California now. As governor, I’m going to give all public schools the same type of freedom and flexibility that charter schools have.

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Poizner. And now more questions in this Republican gubernatorial debate from San Jose. Next question from Carla Marinucci for Steve Poizner.

MARINUCCI: Mr. Poizner, you know one of the biggest problems confronting the next governor’s going to be pension reform. And several recent studies estimate the state has a $500 billion unfunded pension debt. There’s been a lot of proposals about the need to switch public employees from the defined benefit programs to 401(k) style programs. Can you tell us tonight specifically, given the fact that only two states have even managed this kind of reform, what is your plan to get this under control? And do you think public safety employees should be exempt from the 401(k) plans especially given that some critics say cities are laying off cops and firefighters to pay some of these pensions?

POIZNER: Well, $500 billion, that’s the latest Stanford number of unfunded liabilities. When you have people like former Speaker Willie Brown stepping up and saying this is not sustainable, that the public employee unions have taken advantage of their power and have negotiated contracts that are going to bankrupt the state. And, of course, even Treasurer Lockyer says the same thing. So we have to fundamentally change our compensation structure for public employees. You know, I have over a thousand of them at the Department of Insurance. They’re great people. We shouldn’t criticize public employees just for being a public employee. A lot of them are very passionate public servants. But the unions have taken advantage of their power and have negotiated compensation structures that just fundamentally have to change. I do support the idea that these pension structures should look more like what you find in the private sector. In the private sector, there’s these defined contribution structures. That’s what we should have in the public sector. In fact, I’d like all public employees to have their – even their current compensation tied to the health of the economy so when the economy does well, the public employees feel the joy of that and when the economy goes down, they feel the pain. The people in the private sector and state employees should have the same incentive structure so they’re in synch together. Now one thing I’m going to do as governor is to take a look at what I can do to enforce the laws as stated in the Constitution of the State of California. In fact, it’s very specific, Article XVI of the Constitution says that voters need to approve any liability greater than $300,000. Now, hey, wait a minute. These pension deals have liabilities much greater than that. You can count on this. As governor, I’m going to take any new pension deal that we’re going to end up having to negotiate to voters to approve, yes or no, and then you put a – the spotlight on it then let the public employee unions have to explain to the voters why the certain compensation structure’s what they’re advocating. That transparency, that spotlight, that enforcement of Article XVI, now that’s the way to get this thing done.

MYERS: Thank you. And Meg Whitman.

WHITMAN: This unfunded pension liability may be the single biggest problem facing California. Last year, we spent $3.3 billion of the general fund to pay these pensions. Imagine what we could have done with $3.3 billion. So we have got to take this up and, as governor, I will. And here’s what we’ve got to do. We have got to increase retirement age for public safety from 50 to 55, for non-public safety from 55 to 65. We’re going to have to extend divesting periods. We’re going to have to increase employee contributions. And for all new employees, except public safety, we are going to have to go to a more traditional 401(k)-like program. For public safety, my view is that they should be allowed to keep their defined benefit program because they are so important. The first job of government is to keep us safe in our schools and our homes and our streets, so that’s why I’ve made that exemption. We have got to stand up and fix this. It will not be easy but this is the train coming down the track at every single Californian and we are going to have to stand up and be counted on this issue. It’s absolutely essential. And you know what’s not fair?

MYERS: That’s one minute, Ms. Whitman.

WHITMAN: It’s not fair to ask average Californians, non-government employees, to fund these lavish benefits for public employee unions.

MYERS: Thank you. Santiago Lucero has a question now for Meg Whitman.

LUCERO: Ms. Whitman, you’ve been asked about your poor voting record several times during the campaign. You first told reporters at a press conference there’s no excuse for my voting record, which you call atrocious. In 2009, you told AP you didn’t vote because, quote, I was focused on raising a family and my husband’s career and on your career. At the Commonwealth Club in March, you said what changed was that at eBay I saw how government got in the way of small business and realized, quote, it really matters who we elect, unquote. Did it really take you until you were in your mid-forties when you came to eBay to understand that it really matters who we elect and that government affects our businesses and our lives? Why did it take so long?

WHITMAN: So it’s true, I did not vote as often as I should, and I take accountability for that and responsibility for that. And to all of you, I apologize for that. The truth is, I was not as engaged and connected as I otherwise should have been. Like so many Californians and so many Americans, lots of things going on. But I tell you, I’m 100% engaged now. As I said, what I saw at eBay with what the government of California does to small business – Small business will lead us out of this recession and this, I promise you, is the most difficult state in the country to do business. So I think actually politics may be the only way to right the ship that has so many challenges associated with it, so I am 100% engaged. And I would ask you not to judge me on the mistakes that I have made but the ideas that I have to fix California, to restore California to its greatness, to make sure that we have the very best business environment, that California once again is the very best place to start and grow a business, where we are spending taxpayers’ money efficiently and effectively and we have the envy of a K-thru-12 public education system that is number one in the world.

MYERS: Steve Poizner. One minute.

POIZNER: Not voting most of your life is a big deal and you just can’t just wash it away with a simple apology. When Meg lived in Massachusetts, for example, she didn’t even vote for her good friend Mitt Romney when he was running against Ted Kennedy. Now, the Romney-Kennedy contest was one of the biggest important contests for Republicans in decades and she didn’t even vote for Mitt Romney because she wasn’t registered to vote. Now she did have two live-in employees in Massachusetts, a cook and a home manager. They had time to register to vote. In fact, this notion, I just don’t have enough time to vote because I was too busy with my career, I think most people out there find that not really a good excuse. This campaign is going to come down to track record, it’s going to come down to ethics, it’s going to come down to character. Over the last 30 years, I’ve accomplished more than what most people thought was possible in terms of these bold missions I was able to set out for myself, 20 years of experience of being very successful in the private sector. I know how to create jobs. But I now have 8 years of success in politics and public sector service. I’m not a rookie to public sector service, and I’m definitely…

MYERS: One minute.

POIZNER: …not a rookie to voting.

MYERS: Thank you, Steve Poizner. And a question now from Michael Blood of the AP for Steve Poizner.

BLOOD: Public confidence in government is at one of its lowest points in 50 years. Many voters no longer believe they can trust government leaders to fix problems, whether that’s our jammed highways, endless deficits in Sacramento, or illegal immigration. As candidates, you’ve both made promises. Why should voters trust you to be different?

POIZNER: I think it’s an excellent question. I think voters are very cynical and skeptical now. They’ve heard a lot of this before. Well, you know, people ask me all the time, if Arnold couldn’t do it, the action hero, why can you? And one thing I’ll tell you right now, no one’s ever confused me for Arnold, that’s for sure. Though I do have a black belt; I think I could take him if I had to. The fact is, I’m not like Governor Schwarzenegger or most people that have run for office in the past. I have the character and the tenacity and the backbone to get done what I say I’m going to get done. And that’s why I’ve been so crystal clear in my campaign about my conservative core principles, too. It’s important to the Republican primary base and all voters, what are your principles and will you stand by them and fight for them? For me, my principles have to do with my passion for individual liberty and personal responsibility and my passion for free markets and smaller, more accountable government. Now the fact is, the legislature’s going to have to approve a lot of these things that I’m talking about. And people also ask me this, well, what are you, crazy? Why would you want to be governor now? How are you going to deal with the legislature, and the Democratic domination of the legislature are just going to block you. But honestly, ladies and gentlemen, this is the best time to be running for governor. Sometimes it takes a real meltdown, a real crisis in order to galvanize voters, Republican and Democrat alike, and Independent, to get behind a new leader who can take advantage of the crisis in order to get at these big, bold structural forms that are required to get our great, great state back on track.

MYERS: Meg Whitman.

WHITMAN: Well, Steve, as he said, has been part of Sacramento for 8 years and I don’t think that it has been a successful run, and I think he is part of the problem and not part of the solution. And I think what we need is someone who brings a fresh set of perspective (sic). Now, it was interesting the other day, Jerry Brown said you want someone with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s mind. That sounds like someone who used to work at a bank who came back to rob the bank. So my view is we need an outside perspective who – And the number one issue facing this state is the economy. I have balanced budgets. I have created jobs. I have run very large organizations. I deliver results. And I think what the state of California wants is someone who can come in who’s not beholden to the special interests, who can pioneer a way forward around things that really matter. And as I said, my focus is around three things, and we have got to get Californians back to work. If we do not get Californians back to work, there is no way out of this mess because, of course, what happens with high unemployment is revenues go down. But unlike businesses…

MYERS: That’s one minute.

WHITMAN: …when your revenues go down, costs go up. So I think that’s why Californians will trust me to restore California’s health.

MYERS: Folks, we have a short amount of time left. I want to consider – I want to call really what I consider a speed question for each of you. I’m going to give you 30 seconds on this so we can kind of round out this hour of discussion. And it’s this: The state has a $20 billion budget problem right now and part of the challenge in Sacramento are the laws that have been passed by voters as initiatives. I’d like to ask each of you, and I’ll start with Ms. Whitman, 30 seconds, what one budget related initiative needs to be reexamined, given what’s going on?

WHITMAN: Well, I’m a supporter of the initiative process. It gave us Prop 13. But my view is the initiative process needs an overhaul because what we do is we go to voters and we say, hey, would you like high speed rail? But we don’t tell them what needs to be done here. So my view is, we have got to reform the initiative process so that when we go before voters there’s a very clear cost of what that is going to cost the average family in California, so that’s the reform I would make.

MYERS: Do you have one? Do you have one that should be reexamined, though, that are sitting on the books?

WHITMAN: Not – not – not right now, no.

MYERS: Okay. Steve Poizner, do you have one that would be reexamined?

POIZNER: Well, I disagree. We shouldn’t touch the initiative process.

MYERS: 30 seconds.

POIZNER: It’s the only safety valve we have against these career politicians. I’ll give you two even though Meg Whitman can’t give you any. Number one, I would put in front of the voters a constitutional change to put a spending cap in place so that we control spending in Sacramento once and for all. We know Republicans and Democrats can’t control their spending; we need a spending cap. And number two, I’d convert the legislature through a ballot initiative from full time to part time and I’d cut their salary in half at the same time as well. With half salary, what would happen? Oh, they might need to get a job.

WHITMAN: I think you should ask him…

MYERS: Those are – those are new ones, though, Mr. Poizner. I asked was there one on the books that you should reexamine.

POIZNER: Oh, the existing ballot?

MYERS: Yeah, quickly, in 10 seconds. An existing one. Let’s move on because we want to give you time for your closing statements.


MYERS: Fair enough. Fair enough. It’s a speed round. We’ve now come time for those closing statements. Two minutes each, and up first, Meg Whitman.

WHITMAN: Well, I’m running for governor of California because I refuse to let California fail and I know California can be better than it is. And make no mistake about it, we have enormous challenges. And you know what I think the biggest challenge is, California’s crisis of confidence. Every day on the campaign trail people ask me, can California really be fixed? And the answer to that question is yes but my view is it’s going to take a very different approach and an entirely different leadership style. You know, Einstein had it right when he said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results. My approach is anchored in focus. I’ve talked about it a lot tonight. I think it is better to get three things done at 100% as opposed to try to boil the ocean in Sacramento. My leadership approach will be anchored in fiscal discipline. You will not find a more determined fiscal conservative than me. I was successful in 30 business – 30 years in business because I stuck to those core financial principles. I took eBay from a start-up to a Fortune 500 company. I have balanced budgets. I know what it takes, what the conditions are that are required for small businesses to grow and thrive. You know, all Californians want California to be great again and we have a chance to turn this state around. You know, I – we have a destiny in California. We used to be the innovation capital of America but today we are not. And, you know what, I am a big believer in the power of many. What we can do together, none of us can do alone. And if we can come together and shun old approaches and return to our core values of hard work, freedom from government excess, and investing in the future, we are going to be unstoppable as a state. We can make a huge difference here but I will need each and every one of your help. I ask for your vote, I ask for your support as we go forward into what I think will be one of the most important elections in our lifetime in California. So thank you for coming tonight. I really appreciate it.

MYERS: Thank you, Ms. Whitman, and Steve Poizner, closing statement, two minutes.

POIZNER: The surtax to support mental health funding, I would repeal that. Our taxes are already too high. Look, I think California is headed in completely the wrong direction. I want to take California in a completely different direction, that’s why I’m running for governor. Bold, sweeping changes are going to be required or we’re going to get steamrolled in this 21st century global economy by India, China, Nevada and Texas. We need fundamental reform of our tax and our regulatory system or we’re just not going to make it. Half measures won’t do. Now the question comes quickly to the table. Well, what track record do you have so that we can believe that you have a chance of getting these things done? Look at my track record. 30 years of experience of starting and running companies for 20 years from scratch, not a big marketing executive, not a branding expert, but an entrepreneur, an engineer that knows how to build things from scratch. Combine that with 8 years of success in public sector service in the White House during the 9/11 crisis, in the classroom as a volunteer teacher, one of the pioneers of the California charter school movement, running successfully statewide and winning, being one of only 8—one of only 8—statewide officers. As insurance commissioner, I have downsized my department by 15%. I’ve proven I can get things done in Sacramento, too. So here’s the choice. You got Jerry Brown on one end of the spectrum, career politician for 40 years. I think people have had enough of that. And on the other end of the spectrum, we have Meg Whitman, who’s a rookie with close connections to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. I don’t think people are ready for that either. I’m here in the middle with the right set of experiences and the right values and the right track record to get this great state back on track. And I thank you very much for organizing this debate and for all the great questions this evening, and thank you, Meg, for – I hope we’ll have more debates, but I thank you for this one.

MYERS: Thank you, Steve Poizner. And thank you both. If the audience could hold its applause just for a moment. Let me thank a few other people. Let me, of course, again, thank the journalists for being a part of this, and the sponsors of this gubernatorial debate. For Comcast customers, a note that rebroadcast of this debate is available on Comcast Video on Demand. And to our audience here at the Tech Museum in San Jose, and to all of those across California, remember election day is Tuesday, June 8th. As you know, California faces a vast number of serious challenges in the coming four years. Your vote in the race for governor is a vote for the kind of change you would like to see. I’m John Myers of KQED Public Radio and The California Report. Thank you very much for watching and listening and goodnight from San Jose.

CAVANAUGH: …gubernatorial debate here on KPBS. It’s part of our continuing election coverage featuring the candidates and the issues in the California June primary. Go to for more information. Join us tomorrow at 9:00 for These Days on KPBS-FM.