Jerry Brown Shows Meg Whitman How It’s Done at the First Gubernatorial Debate

There’s no doubt that Jerry Brown came out on top after the first gubernatorial debate last night at UC Davis. According to a SurveyUSA/CBS poll conducted last night just after the debate (as reported by CBS’ Doug Sovern on Twitter): 53% say they will vote for Brown, 38% for Meg.

Those figures come as no surprise. Throughout the course of the debate, Brown was warm, thoughtful, intelligent and even funny at times, while Whitman was cold, scripted and over-rehearsed, and her attempted jokes flopped with the audience. But more notably, Brown laid out a clear and executable game plan to create jobs and get California back on track, while Whitman completely failed to offer any real insight as to how she would implement all of the unrealistic policy proposals she’s been touting throughout the campaign. Even the conservative columnist Debra Saunders agrees:

Meg Whitman was too canned and promised too much. I am still waiting to see a sign that Whitman understands the issues a layer deeper than her consultant-driven talking points. And when you try to add up her promises, well, they don't add up.

After opening with the cliché quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” she proceeded to repeat the same talking points over and over again… and then she repeated the same exact quote at the end debate (the irony wasn’t lost on us — and we’re pretty sure she incorrectly attributed the quote to Albert Einstein both times.)

Whitman’s debate responses were riddled with half-truths, flat-out lies and unsubstantiated attacks on Jerry Brown that have already been refuted numerous times by experts and the news media. (We kept track of all of her lies during the course of the debate — View the full fact-check on our Twitter page.)

Brown, an experienced debater, was able to take Whitman’s attacks and use them to highlight her own lack of experience and selfish motives. As CalBuzz reports:

Brown used rhetorical jujitsu to turn some of Whitman’s attacks back on her, painting her corporate experience as too limited and too shallow to stand up to the pressures of being governor. He not only compared the business executive rationale for her candidacy to Schwarzenegger’s, but also linked her both to the Wall Street meltdown and to George Bush supply side policies in Washington, saying her call for a capital gains tax cut would “benefit millionaires and billionaires” including her.

As usual, Whitman got red in the face when asked about her practically nonexistent voting record. Brown, on the other hand, underscored his life-long dedication to civil service and the state of California:

I care a great deal about public service. I think it’s honorable. And I’ve lived in this state all my life. I love it and I voted here all my life. God willing, I’ll spend the rest of my life and die in this state. I love it.

Outside the debate at the UC Davis Mondavi Center, Brown supporters outnumbered Whitman supporters by a ratio of 4-to-1. More than 150 students, workers and allies came out to show their support for Brown. According to Alissa Ko of the California Young Democrats: 

Jerry Brown has always been and is an innovator all through his public life.  He championed civil rights when he was Governor.  He was a champion for the environment when he was Governor.  He also made sure the Cal Grants program was funded 50% more than it was before he Governor so people could get a quality education.   Jerry is right on the issues for young people and that is why they will turn out to vote for him.

Pchelkina Uaslina of SEIU- United Healthcare Workers (UHW) also came out to support Brown because:

He has a lot of political experience and he has created jobs in California. I care about the future of our schools and our economy, so I will vote for him. With Meg- I worry that I will lose my job with her plans.