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Meg Whitman faces Meg Whitman tonight, as well as Jerry Brown

Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown Debate for the Calif0ornia governor's 10-2-10

Meg Whitman faces her biggest campaign challenge in tonight's California gubernatorial debate.

After spending way more than $120 million, much of it her own money, to become the Golden state's next Republican governor, the former eBay CEO needs to come across to viewers as the businesswoman she was and paint her opponent, Jerry Brown, as the professional elected official he has been his entire life.

She's newer on the scene; hence, her immense advertising budget. He's already been governor for two terms, along with  numerous other offices.

Unless they're angrily throwing out another useless Democrat like Gray Davis in favor of a celebrity such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Californians tend to....

...go Democrat the last couple of decades in Senate and presidential voting. Whitman trails slightly in the polls with just 21 days to go, but it remains close given the broad dissatisfaction among voters about where their state/country seems to be going.

Although many forget that Californians, like voters in some three dozen other states, have been casting their early ballots for a week already. Rendering the Tom Brokaw-moderated debate irrelevant for thousands of voters already. One-third of the votes cast in the 2008 national elections were early.

But this is not a usual midterm election year. With the economy still sour and California's unemployment rate of 12.4% No. 3 in the country, Democrats can't take even California for granted.

President Obama and Joe Biden have been to the state more than a half dozen times to help the embattled reelection bid of Sen. Barbara Boxer. And Brown is even calling in the likes of Bill Clinton, who so thoroughly crushed him in their presidential primary debates so many years ago.

Brokaw's goal tonight should be to push the candidates for substance on how to address California's crippling serial budget crises and address the crushing public pension finances.

Brown and Whitman for their part will try to Velcro themselves to their planned talking points: Brown's references to Whitman's wealth, as if he's on food stamps, perhaps an allusion to her Maidgate problem. Whitman will hit again at Brown's lifelong tenure in California politics and intimate ties to unions. She'll probably avoid the "whore" word used by some Brown supporter in reference to Whitman.

You won't hear Brown refer much to Obama or Obamacare, although the head of his party is still more popular than not there. And you won't hear Whitman cite other prominent Republicans like you-know-who, the Republican who used to be Alaska's governor.

Sarah Palin will be in California this Saturday for a public Victory Rally in Anaheim for the Republican National Committee and another one in Florida the next weekend. But, gee, the campaign schedule for Whitman and fellow Republican, Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, simply will not permit them to attend.

Absent a colossal gaffe like Gerald Ford's Poland slip or a touche moment like Ronald Reagan's age quip to Walter Mondale, these televised debates end up meaning as much as midterm exams in college. They seem really important at midterm times, but in the end they only become part of the final grade.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Oct. 2 debate pool via Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (10)

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this is whitman spin. anyway, brown's busy offering solutions. whitman's had plenty of chance to make a pitch to the voters. they're not interested, which is why her #s have gone down steadily. we need someone who knows how to do the job. brown does.

Jerry won that won!!!

Whoever you are out there, the 20-percent that are saying you still haven't decided who you are going to vote for, VOTE FOR MEG WHITMAN!

Improving California's economy is clearly the most important issue for you to consider when placing your vote. California's unemployment has been stuck above 12 percent for more than a year and California is sinking in debt.

Improving California's economy is clearly the most important issue for you to consider when placing your vote. California's unemployment has been stuck above 12 percent for more than a year and California is sinking in debt.

Meg Whitman is THE ONLY CANDIDATE IN THIS RACE who has invested her time, own money and efforts in laying out a detailed plan to turn this state around!

As a Ventura County resident, Realtor, small business owner, and mother of three, I have a vested interest in restoring California to the state that brought jobs and prosperity to millions.

I am voting for Meg Whitman because I feel that she has the best plan to address California's greatest challenges and the ability to get it done. Ventura County has suffered greatly in the last few years and I cannot stand by and watch another client, friend or neighbor shoulder the devastating burden this economy has dealt them because their employer has decided to move their company out of state, or they have lost their job to the extensive layoffs, or because they cannot support their household due to the dire financial difficulty affecting their small businesses.
Meg Whitman states, "I'm tired of losing pioneering California companies such as Northrop Grumman to other states. I've been a Fortune 500 CEO and I know how to get business to stay here or move to California. My administration is going to listen to their concerns, align our policies to make them more competitive and aggressively recruit their counterparts in other states to bring their good-paying jobs here.

In Meg's words: "I want to build A New California, a state that will reward hard work and entrepreneurship, a state that his the best schools in the nation, the smartest government, and above else, the highest quality of life in the world".

Meg has not been a participating citizen for many years. Whilst I applaud her academic/business acumen, and the term "whore" is unkind but not incorrect. She is (trying) to buy the election and, to no surprise, demonstrates her psychological disorders often.

Perhaps me need a minimum standards rule. Don't walk in with your millions and expect respect. She may not a whore in the literal sense and I won't comment on her unattractive appearance.

Meg, pack up and leave. You are a disgrace to humanity


I will vote for Meg Whitman. I liked her plans for California. As a woman we know what best for California, Meg Whitman will be our mother of California. Man they have a simple mind. They are not good in complicated situations. Go for it... Meg, we love you. People of California are waiting for you

Meg Whitman explanation on the maid problem was credible. Gloria Allred explanation was not. Yahoo must at least try to be truthful in their reporting or their credibility is worthless. Stop being a Democratic propaganda machine.

Gloria Allred's pathetic publicity stunt is going down in history as the dirty trick that backfired on Jerry Brown. If Jerry Brown possessed the slightest amount of common sense and decency, he would have run the other direction. Instead he tried to play up this travesty. As a result, Allred's puppet show is going to take Brown straight to the unemployment line, and most likely land her client straight to deportation hearings. Only a narcissist like Allred could make this election about herself. Disgusting.

Yesterday The Feminist Majority Foundation warned that electing Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina or gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman could be detrimental to women’s rights.

if you want the state to continue along current trajectory to 20% or greater unemployment, to insolvency (we're already there really) and to bankruptcy, all you have to do is vote jerry brown.

if you don't think public service employees are overpaid or have 'better than ordinary citizens', if you believe the public school system is doing a good job, if you believe bursting water pipes and rolling brown outs and blackouts are perfectly acceptable, gridlock on the roads, sanctuary city status is wonderful, tax payer support for illegal immigrants (as defined by federal law), tax payer funded education and medical care for illegal immigrants is reasonable, if you wouldn't mind seeing your taxes rise...

vote jerry brown and elect as many democrats for sacramento as possible.

if you don't like the above, vote for anybody else.

Not particular to any party....looking for the candidate who is sincere and truly interested in serving the state. It seems like meg will say anything, or be dishonest, or spend any amount of money just to get a vote....I don't like that (meg, please donate to charity instead, or start a business and create jobs, jobs, jobs). She should not lead a person like me. Brown may not be much better at holding his tongue, but at least he's sincere about public service.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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