Whitman: California is ‘broken’

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, appearing on KUSI's Good Morning San Diego program Wednesday, said California is 'broken' but can be fixed. She said employee unions are 'strangling' Sacramento and that opponent Jerry Brown is beholden to them based on their large investment in his campaign. She also talked about the reasons she got into politics and commented on the recent spate of negative ads in the race, and insisted that in spite of recent polls showing her trailing, “We're going to win this.”

Whitman has recently released an ad that concentrates more on her strengths and her plan for the state, rather than on her opponent. “Californians want to be treated like grown-ups,” she said, “and we know the swing voters who haven't made up their mind yet do see this as an unhappy choice between a career politician who has no plans for the future, and someone who's very wealthy but has no government experience. (In this ad) I just wanted to call a spade a spade and lay it out there about why I was the best candidate to turn California around and to restore the California dream for everyone.”

Whitman owned up to her record of voting infrequently as a resident of California, saying she's not very proud of it and called it the 'wrong thing to do.' She said eBay's foray into the California led to an “a-ha” moment that drove her into politics. “I have lived the California dream in ways I never could never have imagined,” said Whitman. “During my time at eBay I saw what trouble our state was starting to get in… high unemployment rate… driving businesses out of California… we had to start the company again when we started in California, given all the taxes and all the regulations, and I couldn't answer that with an emphatic ‘yes.'”

“And then I had a chance to work with Mitt Romney, who was my very first boss in California, and also John McCain. And they inspired me. They said ‘you can take the skills you've gotten in Silicone Valley, which are so badly needed in California… how to bring innovation to government… how to make it better for the people of California.' So I decided to jump in, and it has been such a privilege. This is a great state and we can turn this state around.”

When asked how she would deal with the divergent personalities and different dynamics of state politics if elected, Whitman said California will never be a business nor should it be a business, but that some managerial expertise was needed to help it run more efficiently and effectively. “The first thing about being a CEO, and what company CEO's will tell you, is that the fastest way to run your company into the ground is to say ‘jump' and everyone else says ‘how high?' You've got to build a shared vision and a shared set of values. You have to bring people into that decision making, and that's what I did as a CEO,” she said. “We have a $20 billion budget deficit, we have tax revenues that are declining and expenses that are ballooning, we have the public employee pension system which is potentially going to bankrupt this whole state, as it is doing (to San Diego).”

“I think I am uniquely positioned because I am not beholden to bosses of the public employee unions, and as you know the public employee unions are strangling Sacramento. No one moves up there without their say-so. Thirty different public employee unions have run $30 million of attack ads against me. Why would they be doing that if they weren't worried that I was going to upend the status quo, and that Jerry Brown was captive to those special interests? All the moms and dads in California who yearn for a better education for their kids, it's not going to happen under Jerry Brown because the California Teachers' Association has been such a big funder of his campaign and all the attack ads against me.”

When asked if she had any regrets about spending so much of her own money on her campaign yet still trails in many polls, Whitman said she feels with the right leadership the state can be turned around, and her giant investment amounts to 'putting her money where her mouth is.' “It gives me the independence to go to Sacramento not being beholden to the special interests and to the unions. That is so essential. Jerry Brown talks about having a meeting once he's the governor, to bring people together. He will have a meeting, but it will be the union bosses from all those unions who are there to collect their IOU's from having funded his campaign,” she said. “You know what you can do with the investment I've made? Give Californians a choice. And this is a very clear choice between a career politician and a career problem solver. And you can't buy elections in California. Voters are too smart, they're very independent, they'll make up their own mind. But you can give voters a choice and that's what I've done.”

“It's a very big state, it's a very expensive state, I had a contested Republican primary,” Whitman continued. “The unions have poured money into this, the unions have spent more than Jerry Brown has in this campaign. That's the part people really don't understand. I have made this campaign about the issues, I have talked about how we're going to create jobs, how we're going to cut wasteful government spending, and how we're going to get our K-through-12 education system back on track. That's what people care about. People care about how they're going to stay in their house, what does it mean for their job, and what about the terrible school their child goes to… what are their options? So that's what we're going to continue to talk about. The polls are all over the place. We have internal polling that shows it much closer, and other external polls also show it close. We're going to win this because Californians care about a small number things right now, the economy and their kids' schools.”

In response to Tuesday's offer from Jerry Brown to end the negativity in the waning hours before the election, Whitman said her campaign ads have always concentrated on Jerry Brown's record and have never gotten personal. “I would have wanted nothing more than to run a positive campaign, I've put out a 48-page policy book that details my plan to turn this state around. Jerry Brown has no plan, he has avoided putting out a plan. And he said in June, he called upon the unions to do the dirty work for him, and they have. They've spent $30 million on negative ads against me. And then that wasn't enough,” she said. “In September he started very negative, very personal attacks against me, nothing based on the issues. The voters of California deserve a debate on Jerry Brown's record, he has been in politics 40 years, they deserve a debate on the issues, and my view is that's very different than personal attacks. So we're going to continue to put Jerry Brown's record out there, we're gonna talk about the issues, we're gonna talk about the positive, optimistic vision that we have for the state of California. I know we can turn this state around. But it's gonna take a leadership that's anchored in common sense, real world perspective of having been in the private sector. That's what I bring to this. I know we can make the Golden State golden again. It will not be easy. Our problems are tough, but so am I. And I will lead through this.”

Categories: KUSI