Live blog: Gubernatorial debate

Tonight’s hour-long debate between Democratic candidate Jerry Brown and Republican candidate Meg Whitman will start at 6:30 p.m. and take place at Angelico Hall on the campus of Dominican University in San Rafael, with Tom Brokaw serving as moderator.

6:31 p.m. Tom Brokaw is welcoming viewers to the third and final gubernatorial debate, calling it a “crucial election at a crucial time.”

6:32 p.m. Brokaw is asking each candidate to directly address Californians and say what they can do for the state. Whitman has the first answer, and is explaining what drew her to the state is the hope it had. She acknowledges that she was lucky enough to run a major Internet company and “live the California Dream.” This dream, she says, is now broken.

“Everyone’s going to have to make a sacrifice to get California back on track,” Whitman says, adding that it can be done.

Brown now has the floor, telling Californians that tough decisions will have to be made, but we can’t point the finger and scapegoat. “We’re going to have to rise above the poisonous partisanship,” he says. “We really have to think for the first time as Californians.”

6:36 p.m. The budget is now the topic. Brokaw is asking Whitman if she thinks Californian voters are being realistic in their views of the budget crisis the state faces.

Whitman says Californians have the right instinct, but goes back to one of main talking points, saying the way to improve the economy is to create jobs. The government must be shrunk — “There must be less people working,” she says, before quickly correcting herself. “There must be less people working in government.” — pension must be removed, and welfare must be shrunk.

Now there’s a Bay Bridge example that Whitman is using, talking about how the construction of the bridge was over budget.

6:38 p.m. Now Brown is responding, saying there are limits that we might recognize. He’s saying that given the state’s budget history, the budget process should begin earlier. If elected, he says he will start the budget process not in January, but in November. He’s travel throughout Northern California and then Southern California to put the budget together, he says.

“We can return power to the local level,” Brown says. “Those at the top should cut first. Lead by example.” If elected, he’ll cut the governor’s office, he says.

6:40 p.m. Now Brokaw is asking Whitman about Proposition 13, which she says is essential to the future of California. The only way to increase tax revenue, she says, is to increase jobs — again returning to her talking points. Competition is also important, she says, and taxes must be beneficial to big business to keep them based in California.

“It’s not OK that many big companies are leaving California for other states,” she says.

Now Brown has the floor, saying that he made the proposition work with a $5 billion surplus when he was governor. He speaks about eliminating the capital gains tax, which he says Whitman would do if elected but he wouldn’t. Doing so, he says, would take away money from public schools, “and that just isn’t right.”

“Jerry Brown’s just wrong about this,” Whitman says, saying it’s a tax on jobs and job creators. Eliminating the capital gains tax would create more jobs and make the state more competitive.

Brown delivers a zinger, asking Whitman how much money she would save on the tax breaks. The crowd stirs.

“I was a job creator,” Whitman replies.

6:46 p.m. After some back and forth between the candidates, Brokaw tries to regain control of the debate, but is interrupted by Whitman, who says Brown just delivered a classic politician half-answer. She says that the unemployment rate rose under his previous leadership as governor.

After Whitman is done talking, Brokaw doesn’t stand a chance. Brown has jumped in to reply, saying that it was during a recession but jobs were in fact created.

6:48 p.m. Brokaw is able to get a word in again, asking Brown about the budget again and saying that Brown’s plan is too similar to the one the state just endured in passing its late budget.

“That’s a great question,” Brown replies, saying that he has experience creating budgets — he’s overseen eight of them. He goes back to a point he made earlier, saying the budget process needs to begin earlier than January, with legislators and then special interest groups. He also wants to take it on the road and ask people, “What is California government?” to better create a conversation about the state’s needs, he says.

He’s going back to talking about making cuts at the top, taking 10 to 15 percent from the governor’s office and then moving on to the legislation.

6:50 p.m. Whitman is talking about Brown’s idea that the “process is the plan,” and is calling Brown out on his plan to cut the governor’s budget, saying it will not make much of a difference in the overall budget crisis the state faces. Brown interrupts, but doesn’t get far, and the audience claps.

Whitman is pitching herself as a Sacramento outsider, saying her experience in Silicon Valley will bring a fresh approach to problem solving.

6:52 p.m. Brokaw tries to ask another question, but Brown responds.

Brokaw now is asking about the “100,000-pound gorilla in the room:” pension programs and whether or not current pensioners should be required to cut back.

According to Brown, compromise is needed in pension reform.

Whitman says we can’t touch existing pensioners can’t have their money taken away since they agreed to it, but has turned the focus on Brown, saying his philosophy is “do as I say, not as I do,” saying the only city manager in the state that was paid more than the Bell city manager was Brown’s city manager in Oakland. The benefits are too padded, she says, and it’s squeezing money from other areas that need it. “The rank-and-file deal has to be entirely different,” she says, but saying that those serving in law enforcement roles should remain protected.

6:57 p.m. Brokaw now asks if there should be a state law overseeing the pension programs of cities and municipalities.

Whitman responds, saying this is where the government needs to step in. “What the governor negotiates with the unions sets the tone,” for the state, she says. Now she returns to another talking point — Brown is beholden to the labor unions, she says.

“I am spending my own money in this race, but it gives me the independence in Sacaramento,” she says, adding that she’s only beholden to the voters of California.

Brown is now responding to some of Whitman’s earlier claims about his city manager in Oakland, saying that Whitman is distorting the facts. He also calls her out on her pension plan for law enforcement, saying their costs eat up a majority of the pension funds.

Whitman responds, saying that there would be modifications to the retirement age of law enforcement officials.

7 p.m. Now the real elephant in the room is brought up: the leak earlier this week that someone within the Brown campaign referred to Whitman as a “whore.”

“I don’t agree with that comparison, number one. Number two, this is a five-week-old convseration picked up,” Brown says, to some “oohs” from the audience. He apologizes to Whitman.

“So Jerry, it’s not just me, but the people of California who deserve better than slurs and attacks,” Whitman says. “You know better than that, Jerry. The fact that you are defending your campaign for a slur and a personal attack on me, I think it’s not befitting on California.”

“It’s a private conversation,” Brown responds, apologizing again and saying he questions the legality of using the conversation. He tries to draw the conversation back to pension reform.

Brokaw now reprimands a growingly unruly audience, asking it not to be as demonstrative.

7:03 p.m. Brokaw has now brought up A.B. 32, asking Whitman where she falls on the issue. “You at first said it was a job killer, then said you would suspend it for a year then examine it,” Brokaw begins, asking Whitman if she would kill a bill that would create green jobs for California.

Whitman responds, giving some background on A.B. 32, saying that the 12.4 percent unemployment rate wouldn’t be fixed by the 3 percent of jobs that fall under the green economy. It’s not fair to the other 97 percent, she says, adding that she calls for a one-year moratorium for A.B. 32 to “see if we can’t nurture green jobs without driving the other 97 percent of the economy out of the state.”

Brown is now discussing the one-year moratorium, saying it won’t work because it’s “turning the clock back.” There are multiple benefits to the bill, he says, including low emissions and better renewable energy. “We’re going to use more California sun and more California wind, and we’re going to get it done,” Brown says.

Whitman responds, bringing up the 97 percent of non-green energy jobs, saying Brown ignored them. He responds by saying there would be jobs for people — retrofitting buildings to be more green, for example.

7:09 p.m. Brokaw asks Brown about education now, specifically the role of the teacher’s union in the education system. “A big role,” Brown says, saying the teachers are a powerful union, but affirming that he is independent from their influence.

“I think Jerry Brown needs to get out and campaign more,” Whitman says, bringing A.B. 32 back to the conversation for unclear reasons. She says she constantly meets people on the campaign trail who need jobs, and A.B. 32 jeopardizes that.

She’s now on topic, talking about the teachers’ union. The biggest problem, she says, is there is no “kid association.” “I want to defend the children,” she says to audience applause.

7:12 p.m. Brokaw now addresses Whitman, talking about how much money she’s spent. He raises a question, however, that if she were so invested in the state political process, why she didn’t vote. The audience claps.

“I am not proud of my voting record, it was wrong and I take full accountability,” she says. “I apologize to the people of California.”

She’s now talking about the California Dream and how if she were elected, she can work in Sacramento “with no strings attached,” because of the fact that she’s spent her own money and is a political outsider. “I can bring a common sense approach from the real world,” she says. “This was always supposed to be a citizen’s democracy.”

Brown responds, saying his entire campaign has been supported by a variety of campaigns and groups, unlike Whitman, who has been supported by “rich campaign contributors.”

7:15 p.m. Brokaw brings up immigration, reminding Whitman that she said businesses and households need to be held accountable for hiring illegal immigrants and asking about her personal experience with an undocumented worker. “If you can’t find someone in your own home, how do you expect businesses to be able to?”

Whitman throws her former employee under the bus, saying that multiple documents were forged and although “it broke my heart,” she fired her. This shows why a better system is needed to verify the documents, Whitman says. The border also needs to be bolstered, with technology and border patrol agents. A temporary guest worker program also needs to be created within the state, she says.

Brown has the chance to respond about businesses hiring undocumented workers, and he says that businesses should be held accountable, but that this is a federal issue under the U.S. Constitution. “The biggest problem here,” Brown says, is that millions of people are “living in the shadows.” “What are we going to do about them? What is she going to do about them? Deport them?” Brown asks. “These are real people,” Brown says, taking a jab at Whitman for not hiring her former employee a lawyer after working with her for nine years.

As far as temporary workers, Brown says it’s too similar to a serf system. “I don’t think it’s human and I don’t think it’s right,” he says to much audience applause.

7:20 p.m. Brokaw is now bringing drug cartel violence into the immigration question, asking if either candidate has any plans to address illegal drug use in the state.

Brown says the Department of Justice has taken down several drug cartels, and rattles off a list of cities as proof. The state is at risk of cartel overspill from Mexico, he says, and gangs are also an issue. “It’s a very high priority, and as Attorney General, I have made it a high priority.”

Brokaw now asks Whitman, an opponent of Prop 19, what she would do if the proposition passed.

“I am firmly opposed to Proposition 19,” Whitman says, adding that people should really ask law enforcement officials. Whitman says “every single law enforcement official in the state” opposes Prop 19, despite the fact that many officials have actually sponsored the bill.

7:23 p.m. Now Whitman is talking about Prop 8, which she says she does not support. She’s drawing Brown into the coversation, saying as attorney general, Brown has the responsibility of defending the proposition in court. Brown has refused to do so. “I think that’s really dangerous,” Whitman says, “I don’t think you can have an attorney general who can decide what part of the constitution he wants to defend and what part he doesn’t.”

Brown says he is following precendent, saying a previous attorney general did not defend something he thought was a discriminatory measure.

“When something is so fundamentally wrong …” Brown begins, saying that the measure was dealt with by the judge who declared it unconstitutional. “I’m not going to be the one to take that up,” Brown said.

Brown’s talking about his stance on crime and fumbles a bit with his wording, because of which Whitman calls him out.

Brokaw asks Brown how he thinks President Barack Obama has done in office, and if he’s like the president to come campaign for him. Brown rattles off a list of Obama’s accomplishments, saying he think he’s “done a good job,” to audience applause.

Whitman is now asked about Palin and if she’s ask for her advice. “You know what, she has a real following in the Republican Party,” Whitman says, talking a bit about the other Republicans she supports instead. When Palin is in California on Saturday, Whitman will be talking to Californians about one of her talking points — jobs.

7:28 p.m. Brokaw asks if the political scene needs to be reformed. Whitman responds by talking about jobs again, but is cut off because of time. Brown is now responding, saying that he’s been “in the kitchen, in the heat,” and Whitman has been in the “bleachers.” Brown says he loves California, but is cut off because of time.

The debate is now over, and the two candidates cross the stage to shake hands.

3 replies
  1. rudy
    rudy says:

    Election Year Medicaid Medicare Inducement issues left open for November not openly discussed.Politics have gone from heated to man on fire thoughts. Also the Judicial dilemmas, since all are offically allowed to bear arms again, the big city Mayors are concerned about how the poor will be able to rearm themselves, and are looking for some type of financial relief from Federal State Medicaid programs to maintain their status quo.The higher courts face tough issues this term since making honest fraud legal, there agenda now turns toward making honest kickbacks and honest bribes equally as legal. This topic remains high as a shared issue by the medicaid medicare enrollment providers since they are looking to expand inducements past the complicated pregnancy stage.

    The DOJ has serious concerns that if legalized marijuana in California for medical reasons could be used as a inducement or inticement to help secure new enrollments for the Federal State Medicare Medicaid programs.The State of California is concerned that if the Feds step up their effort in killing off the marijuana crops it could cause higher tax problems that effect Medicaid currently under consideration by the State ‘marijuana tax control board’. Limo drivers cancel their planned Medicaid Cuts DC rally and leave for California to protect this years crop. Wow, don’t think I would like to be in Politics for this years elections. Govenor Schwarzenegger indicated that if the Tea Partys membership keeps holding their rallies at our Marijuana burning fields they will have to be taxed for their free use of inhalants, prior to having them bused back to Arizona. Senator Mccain wants the deportation of illegal Mexicans to stop immediatley claims their State has gone to POT and insists Californis return his landscapers at once.

    LLBARON says:

    The questions seemed to be very one sided and mean’t to be an attack on Meg. The only question
    that even went close to questioning Jerry’s integrity was the whore question. I think the questions in a debate like this should be fair and balanced, equal questions for each side. Just a thought!

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