warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Brown V. Whitman Debate Numero Dos Stacked Against Whitman

Hillel Aron |
October 2, 2010 | 6:23 p.m. PDT


Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman squared off Saturday morning in Fresno for their second gubernatorial debate. According to Univision’s wacky rules, questions for the debate, which was held at 11 a.m. but not broadcast until 4 p.m., would be asked in Spanish and translated into English, while the candidates' answers were translated into Spanish for television (the debate was available in English on Univision’s website). Got it?

It took almost 15 minutes to address the elephant in the room–Meg Whitman’s former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, who it turns out was an illegal immigrant. And what did Whitman have to say in her defense?

“Jerry, you should be ashamed of yourself!”

It was not her finest moment. In substituting defense for offense, she looked defensive. Whereas her initial answer, that she didn’t know that Santillan was here illegally, sounds perfectly plausible.

(Whitman also said getting rid of Santillan was the hardest decision she ever had to make in her life, which sounds to me like she hasn’t had to make very hard decisions.)

The whole debate seemed a bit stacked against Whitman, who, despite making a concerted effort to attract the Latino vote, still holds many positions that are antithetical to your average Univision viewer. She opposes the DREAM Act, which would give certain students who are here illegally a path to citizenship, and supports Arizona’s recent efforts to enforce immigration laws (through measures some might deem harsh).

The candidates were also asked if they would take a lie detector test, a question clearly targeted at Whitman, which served to make her look dishonest. Not that she needed any help.

In a way, both candidates avoided the issue of illegal immigration. Brown argued that federal government needs to step in and pass comprehensive reform, while Whitman said we can’t talk about paths to citizenship until we first control the borders. 

The rest of the debate covered much the same ground as last week’s- Whitman wants to cut taxes, Brown wants to create green jobs.

Whitman seemed more relaxed and comfortable than she did in the first debate- odd, considering all she was up against.

There were two telling moments for Brown. The first came early on, when he was asked what he would do to create jobs.

“I’m not gonna tell you what I will do, I’m gonna tell you what I am doing.”

That’s just the thing with Brown, isn’t it? He loves nothing more than to tell us about his record but has very little to say when it comes to his proposals. 

During his closing statement, he said, “And finally, I got a vision…” when he was abruptly cut off by the moderator, who said his time was up. And so he quickly added, “and I’ll tell you about that in the next debate!”

We’ll be looking forward to that.

A word cloud based on the transcript of the debate:

To reach Hillel Aron, click here.

Sign up for Neon Tommy's weekly e-mail newsletter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.