Schwarzenegger takes shots at Whitman

September 24, 2009 7:31:17 PM PDT
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a shot at fellow Republican and now gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. He told a San Francisco audience she's likely just blowing smoke about suspending California's climate change laws.

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That's not all he criticized her about -- Governor Schwarzenegger shot from the hip and hit the woman who hopes to replace him, not once, but three times.

The governor came to San Francisco to celebrate the signing of AB32 -- the climate change legislation he signed three years ago on Treasure Island.

When asked what he thought of Meg Whitman's statements, that she would suspend the climate change rules to protect jobs, the governor said it's just campaign rhetoric that candidates make up to get votes.

"And you will hear all kinds of stories. What will happen in reality and what they will do when they go into office is probably a whole different ball game," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. Not satisfied with that he fired another round right at Whitman. He also said "I'm sure she doesn't want to be counted as one of those Republicans that wants to move us back to the stone ages or something like that."

And then he added that in spite of what she said about protecting jobs ahead of the environment, he said Whitman probably didn't mean it.

"I would pay no attention to this kind of rhetoric and just look much more at the substance because I think the substance says something different," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Whitman responded saying three years ago when the bill AB32 was signed, the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent with 883,000 Californians unemployed. Today we have 12.2 percent unemployment with 2.2 million Californians out of work. Simply, jobs must come first."

"Meg Whitman is digging a hole for the general election, I mean, or she's betting that people are going to turn against any kind of climate change regulation because the state of the economy is going to be so bad," said ABC7's political analyst Professor Bruce Cain, Ph.D. "And I'm not so sure in California that even if the rest of the country sours on climate change that Meg Whitman is right about the California public."

Meg Whitman was ahead of the curve when she guided eBay from a $4 million enterprise to an $8 billion giant. She has strong ties to the Republican party leadership in California and to the state's business leaders, but the head of the business-backed Bay Area Council says Whitman is out of step on this one.

"Moving to a renewable energy economy is going to actually create jobs, now there may be some short and midterm pain in that, but ultimately we don't really have much choice in this; we have to make this switch," said Jim Wunderman from the Bay Area Council.

Two thirds of Californians support California's climate change regulations, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. ABC7 called Whitman's campaign to see if she would talk specifics. A spokeswoman referred me to her statement. You can read that full statement below.

Meg Whitman's full statement on job-killing regulation

The following statement is in response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's statements today rejecting Meg Whitman's proposal to implement a one-year moratorium on California's AB 32 as a result of California's record unemployment. Governor Schwarzenegger dismissed Whitman's legitimate call for the one-year moratorium, which is provided for under statute.

"As Governor, I will work hard to protect our environment, but we cannot afford to hastily implement job-killing policies when 2.2 million Californians can't find work.

The needs of our environment have to be balanced with the needs of our people and the needs of our economy. So that's why as Governor I would immediately issue an Executive Order calling for a one-year moratorium on most of AB 32's rules until we are confident our economy is on strong footing.

AB 32's goals may be well intentioned but it's wrong to move ahead right now in these challenging times. To be clear, I would not repeal or roll back AB 32. And the moratorium would not change the goals of AB 32. Instead, I would exercise the option in the law that allows for the implementation deadlines to be pushed back one year when there is a threat of significant economic harm.

Also, we must work hard to understand the true costs and benefits of each proposed rule. This is particularly important because Congress is debating its own version of legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A moratorium now on most AB 32 rules would give us an opportunity to coordinate our environmental efforts with Washington. If we do smart planning, we can save jobs and money. We cannot stand by and watch jobs flee to other states with fewer regulations.

I applaud the goals of AB 32 and our Governor for forcefully advocating for a clean environment. However, three years ago when the bill was signed, the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent with 883,000 Californians unemployed. Today, we have 12.2 percent unemployment, with 2.2 million Californians out of work. Simply, jobs must come first."

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