Brown Funny, Whitman Smart

Steven Greenhut: The debate between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman actually is one of the better political debates I’ve seen in a while. The questions have, as expected, tilt slightly left, but they are pretty much as expected. Questions surround the budget, the campaign ads, pensions, the death penalty, etc. Whitman’s answered are polished and sophisticated. She clearly shows a better grasp of the issues than Brown. Substance-wise, both candidates agree on the need for fiscal discipline. But Brown continues to hammer millionaires and billionaires and absurdly insists that Green Jobs are the full answer for the state’s economy. Whitman is doing a good job pushing for a better tax and regulatory climate and making the case for pension reform and budget control.

Basically, Whitman is proving herself to be knowledgeable and up to the job, albeit a bit stiff and programmed. Brown is showing himself to be non-threatening — i.e., in vowing to uphold the death penalty law even though he opposes the death penalty. He insists that he is tight with the budget. These are things he needs to do. But it’s pretty much as expected. Brown is funny and a bit nutty, but in a refreshing shoot-from-the-hip way. Whitman spouts soundbites and three-point plans, but she does know her stuff and the plans she details are serious and sensible.

So far, I’d have to say it’s a draw.

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