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On eve of Calif. election, Whitman begins shifting gears

By Sandhya Somashekhar
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Meg Whitman played it safe on Monday afternoon when she dropped by a phone-bank operation on the eve of the Republican primary for governor.

The former eBay CEO made a few generic remarks, thanking the supporters who crowded around her with green "Meg 2010" signs and adding more gravely that the work was far from finished. She swept around the room flanked by staffers, who guided her and made sure to keep the way clear as she came through to greet individual volunteers. She did not take questions from reporters.

Whitman has tended to be guarded on the campaign trail, and it was perhaps understandable that she was particularly so on the eve of Tuesday's vote. She has spent more than $70 million of her own vast fortune on this contest and is not keen to lose the 25-point advantage she held in recent polls over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

"I will tell you, I'm very competitive, and it isn't over until it's over," she told supporters.

But there were signs that she had already shifted her strategy to a general election approach.

Shortly after the event, she issued a news release criticizing her likely Democratic opponent, former governor Jerry Brown, for an op-ed Sunday in the San Diego Union-Tribune that laid out the reasons for his candidacy.

She also kept her remarks focused on jobs and the state budget, avoiding a divisive discussion of illegal immigration. Both Poizner and Whitman have sought to appear tough on the issue, and Costa Mesa would have been a perfect place to bring it up. Town leaders have taken a hard line on the issue compared with some of its Southern California neighbors, proposing that police check suspected criminals' immigration status and targeting informal soccer games in public parks.

Poizner took an opposite approach earlier in the day during a town-hall style event in Pasadena. It was sponsored by a local tea party group, and Poizner sought at every turn to bolster his conservative credentials. He told an anecdote about being accused while door-knocking of being a capitalist. "Guilty as charged," he said. He peppered his remarks with references to "individual liberty," Ronald Reagan and the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which refers to states' rights.

On either side of the stage were television screens that said "Stop Illegal Immigration." He argued that the source of California's budget problems and 12 percent unemployment rate was an unfriendly business environment and a permissive attitude toward illegal immigrants.

"This is the worst of all worlds, right?" he said. "We have consumers of government services coming in, we have taxpaying citizens leaving. No wonder we can't balance the budget."

In an interview after the event, he suggested that the GOP primary campaign had not been a fair fight because of Whitman's self-financing. He noted that polls had vacillated in recent weeks and argued that he still had a chance. "We're getting the word out. The volatility in the polls is an indication that people are still confused, still doing their homework," he said.

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  June 7, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , 44 The Obama Presidency  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In Nevada, the GOP primary heads north
Next: California ballot is full of interesting characters, initiatives


You have to ask yourself, why someone would spend 70 Million Dollars to get a job that only pays less than $250,000 a year! What's in it for her? While you are thinking about that one, "What's in your wallet"? Consider also, She had to return a sizable amount of money to keep from being prosecuted, because of the money she made in insider trading! The rich get richer, the poor have nothing, and the middle class is all but extinct!

Posted by: theonejrs1 | June 7, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman has spent more than $70 million of her own vast fortune on this election .... She bought it. If you look at ancient history like the French & Russian Revaluation ... they were caused by the rich doing away with the middle class of people. The same is happening in this country, we're controlled by the rich in every aspect of our life. I don't like being a Serf do you ?

Posted by: wasaUFO | June 7, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

the Tea Party movement has all the momentum....

Posted by: Phil6 | June 7, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Whitman is dodging the illegal immigration issue. She is for a guest worker amnesty but does not want to say so, because her position is so unpopular.

Whitman supports the 21st century plantation owners demand for continued cheap labor to keep wages low and for the greater profit of the rich.

Posted by: Bettybb | June 7, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

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