Whitman says Brown’s debate proposal was a stunt
CLOVIS, Calif. (AP) – California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said Monday she will not debate Attorney General Jerry Brown until he lands the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Brown challenged Whitman and her rival for the GOP nomination, Steve Poizner, to a three-way debate before the state’s June 8 primary.
Poizner, the state insurance commissioner who is trailing Whitman, was quick to accept the invitation, but Whitman declined.
On Monday, the former eBay chief executive called Brown’s proposal a “political stunt.”
“Let’s not put the cart before the horse here,” Whitman said in an interview at a campaign event in Clovis, a suburb of Fresno. “Jerry Brown is debating about a debate. I have work to do.”
Whitman spoke with voters for about an hour, fielding questions on her plans to ramp up border security and stem unemployment in the Central Valley before meeting with a local Native American tribe.
Brown proposed the debate over the weekend, at the state Democratic Party’s annual convention. He said voters were tired of television ads and want all the leading candidates to debate issues such as job creation and the state budget deficit.
Whitman campaign staff initially said she was open to considering a three-way, bipartisan gubernatorial debate, but she said Monday her time was better spent talking with voters.
Brown, a former two-term governor who has held a variety of offices during his 40-year career in California politics, faces only token opponents.
Whitman has spent $59 million of her own money to blanket the airwaves with television and radio ads and pay for experienced political consultants to steer her campaign.
Brown’s campaign, which has spent the season raising money, reiterated prior critiques of Whitman for waging an expensive publicity campaign.
“Meg Whitman should come out from behind her million-dollar ads and have a real conversation in front of the voters,” Brown campaign manager Steven Glazer said.
Whitman and Poizner, a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur, have debated previously, but it would be unusual to conduct a bipartisan debate before winners are selected in the primary.
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