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Whitman says angry Republicans 'are carrying pitchforks and torches'

September 21, 2010 | 10:00 pm

Meg Whitman kicked off a week of high-profile fundraisers Tuesday with an evening reception with Condoleezza Rice at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, just outside of San Francisco.

More than 350 supporters paid $1,000 a piece to feast on rack of lamb and flourless chocolate cake while the Republican gubernatorial nominee and the former secretary of state held an on-stage conversation about the state of California and the state of the campaign.

Whitman kicked things off with brief remarks, reflecting back on 18 months of campaigning.

"There were many doubters about my campaign," Whitman said. "But I don’t remember those doubters. I don’t remember the TV buys. I don’t remember the hours and hours of debate prep. I don’t remember all the challenges along the way. What I remember is a collage of California, a brightly colored landscape filled with personal stories of pain and of struggle but also of optimism."

She boasted about her campaign organization and her aggressive outreach to Latinos, women and young voters, saying that nearly 60,000 volunteers were working to elect her, while painting her Democratic rival Jerry Brown as a pawn of organized labor. Republican enthusiasm, she said, is at a feverpitch. "They are carrying pitchforks and torches and saying, 'Which way to the castle?' "

For her part, Rice praised Whitman's business background and said she had the skills to improve the state's public education system, which she identified as the race's biggest issue.

"Meg Whitman has got to be the next governor of the state of California," Rice said to applause. "We’re passionate about a lot of the same things. We’re passionate about free enterprise and the private sector and its ability to innovate and employ people. And I know you are going to take care of the people of California and their desire just to have a job, just to be employed. I know too you are going to go after fiscal discipline with laser focus. … I also know you are going to be a fierce fighter for our kids."

On Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign with Whitman, and on Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will headline two events.

-- Michael J. Mishak in Burlingame

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