Gubernatorial Hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner Hold First Debate

March 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state's Republican candidates for governor faced off Monday, trying to convince voters they have what it takes to fix California's budget crisis. During the hour long debate, Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner outlined what sets them apart. One major difference is how they plan to create jobs and cut taxes."If we don't put people back to work in California, there is no way out of this problem. So I've got a set of targeted tax cuts that will spur hiring right away that will get us on a much better path to the future,' said Whitman.

"I think California is so out of sync in the global economy, only a massive overhaul will do. That's why one of the centerpieces of my campaign is to cut taxes boldly across the board," said Poizner.

Whitman entered the debate with a significant lead in the polls and both candidates are now trying to position themselves as the "real" conservative. ABC 30 Political Analyst Tony Capozzi said there was no clear winner. "No one threw the big punch. No one knocked the other out, it was kind of a draw," said Capozzi.

Still, the chairman of the Fresno County GOP, Dr. A.P. Sidhu, called the debate a good first step. "Up to now, we've only seen these candidates through the t-v ads, or meeting them at fundraisers, or hearing ready made speeches. So this was a very good start today," said Sidhu.

The debate was sponsored by the group, "The New Majority" and available only online. While Sidhu said more debates like this one would help Republicans select the right candidate, Capozzi said because of Whitman's significant lead, she doesn't have a real need for anymore debates. Because of that, he predicts this race is going to get dirty. "I think it's going to start getting more personal as we get closer to June, especially if Meg Whitman is so far ahead in the polls. The only thing Poizner can do is hit her and hit her hard," said Capozzi.

Capozzi said the big question for the Republicans is which candidate can beat Jerry Brown. While they're appealing to conservative voters now, they'll need the support of independents in order to defeat the Democrat.


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