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Meg Whitman to speak in Seal Beach

Meg Whitman is set to speak in Seal Beach today, one day after saying in her first debate with her rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Steve Poizner, that her focus on three issues can "make the Golden State golden again."

"My approach starts with focus," the former eBay chief executive officer said in Monday's hourlong debate at the Samueli Theater at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. "I'm a big believer in doing three things at 100 percent as opposed to 10 things at 10 percent."

Poizner campaign communications director Jarrod Agen told City News Service today that "California faces a number of problems and anyone who thinks the next governor can only focus on three things at once is naive and is doing a disservice to the residents of this state."

"If Meg Whitman won't address major issues like illegal immigration or the water crisis because those aren't on her limited list, then how does she expect to bring any reform to Sacramento," Agen said.

In today's speech at Leisure World Seal Beach, Whitman will outline detailed policy proposals focused mainly on her top three priorities – creating jobs, cutting government spending and improving education, press secretary Sarah Pompei said.

In her closing debate statement, Whitman said she is running for governor because "I refuse to believe California cannot be better than it is."

"I refuse to let California fail," Whitman said. "Make no mistake about it. Our state is in big trouble and you all know the statistics.

"But most worrisome is California's crisis of confidence. I see it every day on the campaign trail. People ask me, `Can we turn California around? Can we actually fix this state? Its problems seem so great.'

"My answer to that question is yes. I know we can change California. We can make the Golden State golden again, but it's going to take a completely different approach and a different style of leadership."

In answers to questions submitted by the public via the Internet, Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner, and Whitman generally reiterated the themes of their campaigns.

Poizner discussed his proposal for across-the-board tax cuts to stimulate the state's economy.

Whitman and Poizner both said they opposed increasing taxes and changing the two-thirds requirement to adopt a state budget.

A new revelation from Whitman was her opposition to legalizing marijuana to generate tax revenue.

"This is the worst idea I've ever seen," Whitman said. "Every law enforcement person will tell you that we shouldn't be legalizing marijuana for any reason, least of all for monetary gain."

Poizner also opposes legalizing marijuana, Agen said.

"Like electing Jerry Brown, the idea of legalizing drugs is one more bad idea from a bygone era," Agen said, referring to the state's attorney general and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, who was governor from 1975-83. "Nor can California smoke its way out of the structural budget deficit."

In his closing statement, Poizner said, "I believe California is headed completely in the wrong direction."

"I want to run for governor so I can take California in a completely different direction," Poizner said. "California has become the most liberal state in the country. I think we've gotten there probably for good intention, but the jury's in. We're now effectively bankrupt. We don't have the capacity to pay for this rapidly growing government of increasing taxes, driving out the tax base. It's got to change.

"I want to fix the state of California by implementing some bold, sweeping reforms that include tax cuts across the board. I want to stop illegal immigration by cutting off taxpayer benefits for illegals."

Poizner also said he "wants to address some important family values issues," including banning government funding for abortions and requiring parental consent in most cases when a minor wants to have an abortion.