The Highlight of Gubernatorial Debate in Irvine: TV Screens

Okay Repubs, here's what you need to know about the differences between your two non-Meg-Whitman candidates for governor:

Tom Campbell, if elected, would cut spending and then cut taxes.

Steve Poizner, if elected, would cut taxes and then cut spending.

See the difference?

Alright, I'll admit it. I stole that observation, a little bit, from Twitter.

But how could you not? At last night's gubernatorial debate at Brandman University in Irvine, there were screens on both sides of the small stage broadcasting the live feed of what everyone on the Twitter was thinking about the #cadebate.

And so, we had @OrangeJuiceBlog telling us exactly what we had just seen on stage. We had @CalWaterFront and @SierraClubCA blubbering about water issues. We had the candidates own Twitter accounts summarizing talking points as they were delivered.

Kind of cool. Kind of annoying.

To be fair to the candidates, we heard about differences greater than the one I listed up there. Poizner, jauntily outfitted in a blue collared shirt with no tie, kept talking up his 10-10-10 plan: 10% tax cuts, 10% spending cuts, 10… I don't remember what the other 10 was. 10 something. It sounded sorta bold till panelist Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee pointed out that Poizner's numbers don't come close to closing California's projected budget gap, and Campbell pointed out that the plan was to take hold over two years — meaning only a 5% cut each year.

Campbell, regally outfitted in a buttoned-up black coat and deep red tie, spoke softly and a little shakily, but he scored points by hammering Poizner for a lack of specificity — apparently, Cambpell has already laid out a detailed, line-item spending reduction plan online — and playing up his experience in state and federal government. He favors an open primary, but Poizner doesn't.

But the two agreed on an awful lot, including controversial issues like marijuana. Neither were in favor of legalizing and taxing the drug wholesale. And both beat their chests on immigration, threatening to send the National Guard down to the border if Obama wouldn't secure it. Kind of seemed a little silly from two affable, soft-spoken policy wonks.

A question was asked about the role of money and celebrity in elections. Campbell, a career politician and academic, jokingly pledged that he would spend none of the Campbell family riches on his campaign. Wouldn't it be awesome, he said, if Whitman and Poizner would do the same? Poizner, a bazillionaire ex-tech CEO, seemed a little bashful in saying that wasn't going to happen.

It was weird to see such a public shaming of financial success; for a moment, you could imagine we were at a Democrat debate.

Okay, sorry. I stole that line, too, from Twitter.

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