Heated governors debate at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif.

The debate had some heated moments. The focus was supposed to be on a variety of Latino issues. But, as expected, the controversy surrounding Meg Whitman's housekeeper became the main focus.

For the first time in California history, a gubernatorial debate was broadcast in Spanish. Saturday's debate at Fresno State sponsored by Univision was designed to target Latino voters.

The first question asked how republican candidate Meg Whitman and democrat Jerry Brown plan to lock in those votes which will serve as a key factor in this election.

"My outreach really starts with my long record. I don't come at this as something just within the last year or two. When I was governor, I signed the first agricultural labor relations law," Jerry Brown said.

"But the reason that Latinos should be interested in my campaign is because I know how to create jobs," Meg Whitman said.

Initially, both candidates focused on issues ranging from the economy, to health care to their plans on improving education.

"The first thing I want to do is grade every single public school a simple letter grade and then I want to tell the parents," Whitman said.

"All the schools have numerical grades now, letter grades, it's a simple translation, I can do it myself, if that would help Mrs. Whitman but I have to tell you it doesn't help much. It's like adding an extra speedometer on the car," Brown said.

Four questions in though, Saturday's debate evolved into a war of words.

Meg Whitman was asked to address the recent allegation that she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper for nine years and then fired her when she entered the governor's race.

Whitman says the housekeeper claimed to be legal until June 2009.

She blames Brown for using the housekeeper to orchestrate a smear campaign against her. "You and your surrogates put her deportation at risk. You put her out there and you should be ashamed for sacrificing Nicky Diaz on the altar of your political ambitions."

Brown claims he played no part. He says Whitman should be held accountable. "Don't run for governor if you can't stand on your own two feet and say hey I made a mistake. I'm sorry. Let's go on from here."

After the debate, Whitman addressed the allegations again.

Overall, she thought she handled the issue and the debate well. "This in some ways is a side show, a circus a distraction from what Californians want to focus on. And Jerry Brown doesn't want to talk about the issues."

Brown on the other hand stood his ground. "Let's keep the focus where it is. Meg Whitman is always pointing the figure but she never turns it inward and says ok, I screwed up."

Political analyst Tony Capozzi was in the audience during the debate. "Both went after each other. They tried to make it personal between them. All in all, this was Jerry Brown's crowd I think. He did a very good job in dealing with the issues in dealing with the issues that deal with the Hispanic community."

There was a 45 minute delay during Saturday's debate due to technical issues. Whitman and Brown will square off in their final debate on October 12th at Dominican college in Marin County.

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