"I'm Fighting for Every Vote"

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AP/Paul Sakuma

SAN JOSE -- Meg Whitman seemed to be on a mission as she moved from table to table inside Saigon Kitchen, a restaurant in the heart of this city's Vietnamese community.

"Anything else you think I should be doing?" she asked one group of community leaders. "I mean, because you are a very important group that could well swing the outcome of this election."

The candidate who seemingly has unlimited resources is now faced with polls showing her behind and a dwindling resource that she can't replenish: time.

I sat down with Whitman for a brief chat Saturday morning after she made her way through the crowded restaurant, a conversation that we excerpted this morning on The California Report.

Below, you can hear the entire Q&A. For those following this race intently, you may not think you hear a lot new in our conversation. But what did seem striking to me was that this seemed to be Meg Whitman at her most 'organic' -- and by that, I mean the least laden with the rehearsed quips and catch phrases that have at times been the only answers reporters are given for most every question.

This time, although the topic was familiar, the GOP nominee seemed to answer in her own words. She also offered up some compelling new ways of thinking about the issues she's been pushing all year long -- including a call for Silicon Valley firms to look a little less far away when setting up their auxiliary operations. (And by the way, Whitman seems to be right; the cost-of-living in, say, Fresno does seem to be lower than a place like Salt Lake City.)

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Note: this conversation marked the fulfillment of a request made weeks ago to the Whitman campaign. So far, her opponent Jerry Brown has not replied to our request for a similar conversation.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • http://www.singlepayercentral.com Spc

    Setting aside Mr. Myers’ consistent transparent conservative lean and snotty tone, it is unfortunate he did not ask (nor point out to) Meg Whitman the fact that the California legislature (its ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE assembly, for example) TRUMPS appointments. If she can’t work with a largely Democratic assembly, appointments or not, A Whitman-led California will essentially be more of the same gridlock and thus, indeed – more of the same.

    And speaking of incumbancy fatigue, how about replacing Mr. Myers with some new blood at KQED – perhaps someone who does not dismiss movements of importance in California such as the massive (yes, massive – 17k physicians alone as well as the CNA and CSEA members) singlepayer movement to pass California’s SB810. It might inspire some, like us, to restore a lapsed subscription/membership. Regardless, it behooves KQED to have someone who can be more neutral cover Sacramento for a change. There is no lack of conservative lean in the media right now, thank you. Give us an alternative if you want to retain and recover paying members.

  • http://www.kqed.org/weblog/capitalnotes/blog.jsp John Myers

    I appreciate all feedback on my work, including from those who dislike it. I’ll pass on having a protracted back-and-forth here about the various and sundry claims you’ve made (though for clarification, I don’t cover health care — that’s covered quite capably by our staff on the Health Dialogues team).

    But on the substance of the Whitman interview, I’m sure from the outside looking in that it seems there are scores of things I could have asked her. And let me make clear: had I been given more than 15 minutes, I would have asked much, much more. This story had a modest goal conceived of allowing the candidate to make her own case one final time and, if needed, to be challenged. I’m hoping Brown takes us up on our offer to do the same. You’ll notice I questioned her assumptions on states such as Texas and Oregon when it comes to California comparisons, but my role is not to be argumentative (which, I take it, you would have preferred).

    The Legislature is absolutely a co-equal branch of government, and any governor would ignore that balance at his/her peril. But let’s be fair to remember that even Democratic governors have been hampered by that relationship. Gray Davis can attest to that.

    Ms. Whitman seems to genuinely believe in the power of the appointments process and, your disdain notwithstanding, that’s not an unreasonable point to allow her to make.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on your accusations of bias and unwillingness to cover actual news. I assume when I write something more critical of those you dislike, you’ll be unmoved, yes?

  • ace

    I thought it was interesting to hear her riff on things in her own words. It certainly paints a more complex picture of her. She’s still wrong for the state, but at least I know now she can get past the talking points.

  • Peter

    Myers did a good job critiquing Whitman here: http://blogs.kqed.org/capitalnotes/2010/05/17/whitman-10-15-billion-in-waste-fraud-abuse/ and here: http://blogs.kqed.org/capitalnotes/2010/10/22/campaign-check-jobs-jobs-jobs/, so THANK YOU, John. I cannot vote for Whitman because I simply do not buy any of her affected passion for addressing California’s problems. She didn’t vote; she never served on a school board or similar government commission; nearly all of her charitable foundation’s millions purchased land surrounding her Telluride, Colorado, ranch to keep it out of the hands of developers; finally, she didn’t even contribute to society by raising her sons. She paid nannies and tutors to do that. There is not a single public-spirited thing Whitman has ever done that recommends elevating her to any elected office, so I have to conclude she’s just pimping Californians to milk her next cash cow. That’s all it’s EVER been about with her.