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Jerry Brown - Meg Whitman debate: Format could lead to more freewheeling exchanges

October 12, 2010 |  4:30 pm

The final gubernatorial debate between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown could be the most spirited of the three rhetorical sparring matches. For starters, this is the last chance for the candidates to score political points in a widely broadcast television event.  Also, tonight's debate will have a single moderator -- NBC's Tom Brokaw will play questioner and referee for tonight's showdown. And while candidates will have 90 seconds to answer a question, and their opponent will have 30 seconds to respond, Brokaw has wide leverage to ask follow-up questions and continue any discussion that gets particularly heated.

"Basically the format for this debate is, 'Tom Brokaw is going to ask some questions,' " said Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford.

Brown and Whitman have debated twice before -- once at UC Davis and once at Cal State Fresno. The Fresno debate had the most direct exchange between the two candidates over the issue of Whitman's housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan.

"You should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions," Whitman said to Brown.

Brown said Whitman still refuses to take responsibility for her actions and that shows she is unfit to be California's next governor.

"Don’t run for governor if you can’t stand up on your own two feet and say, 'Hey I made a mistake, I’m sorry, let’s go on from here,' " Brown said. "You have blamed her, blamed me, blamed the left, blamed the unions but you don’t take accountability."

In tonight's debate, Brown may be called on to apologize himself for a tape-recording in which someone in Brown's campaign can be heard calling Whitman a "whore." Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer said the campaign has already apologized to Whitman for the remark.

-- Anthony York in San Rafael

Brown, Whitman debate: Housekeeper issue leads to heated exchange