Newt Gingrich backs Whitman in Calif. gov's race

SACRAMENTO, CA

Gingrich on Tuesday said the former eBay chief executive advocates for the right tax policies and is committed to tackling welfare reform, one of his top issues.

California has a 12.6 percent unemployment rate and faces a $19 billion budget shortfall through June 2011.

Whitman built an early 50-point lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, but a poll last week shows her lead has shrunk to 9 percentage points.

Whitman is trying to boost her conservative credentials ahead of the June 8 primary with endorsements from high-profile Republicans such as Gingrich, who led a Republican surge in 1994. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also has endorsed her.

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