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Governor Participates in a Discussion with Gubernatorial Candidates Brown and Whitman at The Women's Conference 2010

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

MR. LAUER:

How are you doing, Governor?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Terrific, thank you. I mean, after this kind of introduction, how can you do bad?

MR. LAUER:

Yeah, it's not so bad. Now, with that film, that presented a lot of the great things that have happened over the last seven years. And we know that that is only part of the story of the last seven years.

I want to remind you of something you said back in 2003. You were giving an interview to the Hollywood Reporter back then and you were asked about running for public office, and you said, "I'm in show business. I'm in the middle of my career. Why would I go away from that and jump into something else?"

Over the last seven years, have you ever wished you'd listened to those words? (Laughter)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

I think this -- besides marrying Maria, I think this was the best decision that I have ever made. (Applause) And I'm really excited about the fact that I was able to step out of making millions and millions of dollars and was able to go and say I'm going to work for seven years for the state of California without getting paid and just giving something back, like I said, to my state. And it is the most gratifying thing, the most satisfying thing. It's also, of course, a lot of work and there were down periods and there were up periods. You know, it was a roller-coaster ride, no two ways about that.

MR. LAUER:

When I watched you up there taking the oath of office seven years ago there was this great look of enthusiasm and idealism on your face. But when you look back, are there words you could use to describe the challenges? Did the expectations you had on that day seven years ago match with reality?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

I think that I've been around the Shriver family long enough and I have served under President Bush as the chairman of the President's Council on Fitness, I've run After School Programs, I have spent a lot of time with Governor Wilson during the time I was the Governor's chairman on Physical Fitness here -- and so I know the challenges that you face when you're in this position.

But I did not shy away from that, because it was at that point not about me, it was more about the state. And there's one thing that you know right off the top, and that is that you have to have a lot of political courage to go and jump into this and to do battle, because every single time when you're trying to do reforms, when you try to change something, it's ugly. It's really ugly. I mean, I always say there are two things you don't want to watch, which is how reforms happen and how you make sausage. You don't want to watch that. (Laughter)

You want to see the end product of that, but you don't want to watch it because, I tell you, it takes a lot of -- you know, determination and vision, because you're going to get beaten down over and over. And you've got to get up all the time and you've got to try it again and try it again until you get those reforms done. So there was a lot of struggle there, but we have done a lot of great things because of it.

MR. LAUER: We say that, by the way, about making television too; you don't want to see how that happens. You came to the office and you said I am going to find the political middle ground. Alright, I'm going to walk down that middle ground. Give yourself a grade from A to F. How did you do in accomplishing that?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

I think that I'd give myself a straight 10. (Laughter)

MR. LAUER:

From A to F, Governor.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

A straight 10, an A.

MR. LAUER:

An A, OK.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

But I'll tell you why, because it's easier to go and just to be way on the right today and it's easy to be way on the left, but where it's dangerous is to be in the center. But the fact of the matter is you have to be in the center because you've got to be able to bring both of the parties together to get things done, because -- (Applause) Thank you.

In Washington right now you see the opposite. You see people are going further and further to the right and then the others go further and further to the left. And what happened? They couldn't accomplish anything this year. So we are sending all those politicians to Washington to go and to take care of the job and they couldn't get anything done.

Whereas in Sacramento we also have Democrats and Republicans, but we were able to bring them together and to do the pension reform, to do the budget reform and to go and to do a budget with a $20 billion deficit and the year before a $60 billion deficit, without having those major battles and calling each other names -- I mean, with some exceptions. (Laughter) But the bottom line is we did it.

So there's great work that was done in Sacramento but not great work that was done in Washington, because they're drifting too far apart.

MR. LAUER:

Now, are you painting perhaps too rosy a picture of the situation in Sacramento? When you talk about being able to bring people together on a couple of occasions -- (Applause) The fact of the matter is, there were some times where you simply couldn't bring people together.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Absolutely.

MR. LAUER:

And so what advice would you give to your successor, either Ms. Whitman or Mr. Brown, in terms of helping them to find more success than you had because, as I said, it didn't always go your way?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, it can't go always your way. I mean, you would be living in a dream world if you think that it always goes your way. But the fact of the matter is we did bring people together and accomplished a lot because of it, and that the only way you can do that is if you are in the center.

The most frequent thing that people come up to me with and say is, "Please stop fighting. Politicians should stop fighting. Get things done but stop fighting." This is the most common thing that people say, because people are sick and tired of politicians accusing each other of things and attacking each other, calling each other names and so on. (Applause) It's a waste.

I think it is much more attractive if candidates go out and talk about what is their vision of the future of California, how are they going to take what we have accomplished and build on this foundation? That is really the important thing.

What do you have to say about the direction you want to go about women, for instance? You know, this is one of the things that we haven't heard much about in this campaign, because there are a lot of challenges.

Maria just did the Shriver Report, as you know.

MR. LAUER:

Right.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

And there are tremendous changes happening in the workplace. You know, in the '70s there were one-third of the women working, and now today half of the workforce is women. Well, that changes a lot of things, that they become then the primary breadwinner for the family and have to also raise the kids and have the responsibility, bring home the bacon and all of those things. So that is a whole new challenge. One ought to talk about that, what laws need to be changed in the future and that.

MR. LAUER: Well, if you bring up gender, I think -- and I'm glad you did, because I want to ask you -- when you look at the two people who are vying for your job, the most talked about difference between them is that one is a Democrat and one is a Republican. The most obvious difference between them is that one is a woman and one is a man.

Do you think women and men bring different sensibilities and bring a different perspective to a job like leading the state of California? And if so, if you do think that, how would that work out in Sacramento?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, I tell you, I'm a big believer in women's participation, simply because I've seen it firsthand; most of my Cabinet secretaries are women, my chief of staff is a woman. (Applause) And when I think about all of the great, great ideas and experience they bring to the table and running our administration --

And then also, let's not forget, I think that having Maria as my partner, it is priceless to have this kind of a partnership there, someone that is so smart, someone that comes from this background, a political background, someone that has that kind of wisdom and that thinks about policies not just for women but about how to run the state. And we talk about a lot of different issues before I make decisions -- not that her way goes always. I mean, we have our discussions, obviously. (Laughter)

But, I mean, she has been a terrific partner. And you can see it just with this conference here. This is all Maria's doing. I mean, she and her team gets together and she has started with a Women's Conference -- it was a terrific Women's Conference, but now it is the biggest women's conference in the world. Having a partner like this -- this is all womanpower, this is a woman's brain working here. So I always enjoy including this and making that part of my team. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

So going back to my question about would either of these people bring a different perspective to Sacramento, do you think one perspective might offer an advantage over the other?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

You know, you can't say that. I think that there is -- sometimes men can thing really well and I think the key thing here is not so much is it a woman or a man. (Laughter) It is more about, is the person willing to think? (Laughter)

MR. LAUER:

You might want to look over your shoulder, there.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Is the person willing to think for the voters, is the person representing the people of California rather than the special interests or labor or the oil companies (Applause) and all of those different forces that are going to come out and attack you when you try to make changes? That's the important thing, because so many times people talk about experience is the most important thing, or think it has to be a woman or it has to be a Democrat or it has to be a Republican.

Forget all that. I think the important question is, are you willing to go and represent the people of California rather than representing the special interests that pay you to get into office? (Applause) Are you willing to push back on those special interests? That's really the question. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Let me end by asking you two final questions. One is you came to office saying you wanted to make life better for the people of California. And we know these seven years have been tough. The economy here in the state has been difficult, the economy nationwide has been excruciatingly troubled. You've got 12 percent unemployment, about that -- you've got a lot of homes in foreclosure in this state, or heading into foreclosure. Do you leave the state of California in better shape than you found it?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, first of all, let me just say that it is heartbreaking to see those unemployment numbers. I mean, 12. 4 percent is very high. And it is terrible, because when you lose a job you don't just lose a job. I mean, you lose your ability to provide for your family, which has a tremendous impact psychologically. You don't feel wanted and needed, disconnected. It's embarrassing. You can't provide to go on vacation with your family or even go and pay for the kids' education. You lose your homes, you lose businesses. I mean, there is some tremendous suffering that has gone on over the last few years in California. And we never thought that such a big recession would come, not only in California but around the country, and around the world, as a matter of fact. So we want to go and bring the economy back as quickly as possible -- and this is one of the big challenges -- and bring jobs back as quickly as possible.

But there is, at the same time, great things that have happened since the time I came into office, if it is the reforms, political reforms of redistricting, or if it is, you know, getting open primaries, or to have budget reform and to have pension reform. Pension reform alone, we saved the taxpayers $100 billion. So those are the kind of things that we have accomplished.

That doesn't have -- and many of the reforms that we have accomplished -- sadly, they were accomplished very late in my administration because we had all of those fights to get there. But we finally did get there and so the next administration is going to benefit from that.

And when you're governor you don't think just about your administration, you think about the long term. About water, you want to make sure that in 50 years from now the state of California has enough water. You want to make sure there are no blackouts anymore, so you provide enough electricity. You want to make sure to protect the environment and you build enough solar plants. You want to make sure that you build enough bridges and enough roads and enough schools and enough university buildings so that the kids in the future can study and we can deal with this increase of population.

All of this does not happen today, not during my time, during my administration, but it will benefit the next administration and the administration after that. So, to me that was a great, great accomplishment, to really lay the foundation that we go in the right direction and that we reform the things that needed to be reformed.

MR. LAUER:

And finally -- (Applause) You have neglected to do one thing. You have decided you are not endorsing a candidate in this race. You've said you will not do that. Just between you and me -- (Laughter) Before I bring them out, do you want to whisper? I'll make you a deal. I'll arm wrestle you. If I win I'll tell you who I want to win the World Series. If you win, you tell me who you want to win this governor's race. (Laughter)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, first of all, let me just explain to you that most of the time when you are in your last year they call it the "lame duck governor." I made it very clear that I'm going to race through the finish line. There is no lame duck. I have no patience for this stuff, right? (Applause) We are only one time around, and so therefore you've got to go for it.

And so there are a lot of things that we needed to accomplish this spring and this summer and this fall. For instance, the budget reform, which is historic, to have a rainy day fund for the first time in California. Or to have pension reform and to roll back the public employees' pensions to the 1999 level. To do the budget, a $20 billion budget. And to have all this legislation that I had to deal with, to veto and to sign or to negotiate.

I was not about to go and to disrupt that to start going to side with one or the other. So this is why I said I'm going to stay out of that. I don't want to offend anybody; I want to play neutral here for right now. I want to get all of this work done.

And until election day we're going to fight -- right now I am, together with the Democrats, with the environmentalists, with the business leaders, with oil companies, with the car industry, everyone working together to go and beat back Proposition 23. (Applause) This is a partnership that is very fragile, to make sure that we protect our environment in the future.

So to me it's not important about me. It's not about me endorsing someone. I'm irrelevant in all of those things. What is relevant is that California moves forward and that we have an environmental policy that stays alive, that does not get destroyed and taken out by Texan oil companies that are spending millions of dollars against our environmental policies. (Applause)

And this is Democrats and Republicans and business leaders, everyone working together. I'm not going to disrupt that relationship. I'm going to continue on, like I said, and I'm going to run through the finish line.

And after I vote on November 2nd I will tell you, and then we can do the arm wrestling. (Laughter)

MR. LAUER:

I think you just don't want to arm wrestle me, to be honest with you.

Governor Schwarzenegger, sit tight. Let me expand the discussion now by bringing in the two people who would like to sit in the governor's office come January.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Hi, Jerry, good to see you.

MR. LAUER:

And let me first introduce the Democratic candidate for governor, Mr. Jerry Brown. (Applause) Hi, Jerry, nice to have you. Please have a seat.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Sitting over here on the left? OK.

MR. LAUER:

And ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman. (Applause)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Nice to see you.

MS. WHITMAN:

Thank you. Hello, Governor Schwarzenegger, Jerry.

MR. LAUER:

Please have a seat. This is great. From what I understand, this is unprecedented. The three of you have not been on the same stage during this election cycle, so thank you for agreeing to do this. It's not a debate. You guys have been there, done that. There are no rules, there are no time limits. It's an open discussion, an exchange of ideas. You can ask each other questions, I'll ask questions. Governor Schwarzenegger may have a few questions as well.

So let me start with this -- and it's a similar or the same question for all of you. Ms. Whitman, I'll start with you. You've spent a lot of money trying to communicate to the voters here in California who you are and what your message is. So with a week to go before the election, what haven't you been able to communicate? What would surprise these people to know about you? What don't we know?

MS. WHITMAN:

Well, first of all, thank you for having me here. This is a great opportunity.

I think -- you know, when people ask me who you really are, I am my mother's daughter, and my mother was really the first agent for change that I saw in my young life. And she used to tell us a story of being a mechanic during World War II. She joined the Red Cross because she wanted to give back.

She was sent to New Guinea, which was a surprise. She gets to New Guinea and the base commander says to this troopship full of women, "We need airplane mechanics and we need truck mechanics." Trust me, my mother had never looked under the hood of anything. But she raised her hand, because she knew that was where the need was greatest.

So she said to me as a little girl, "You know what? The price of inaction, the price of not doing anything when the need is great, is far greater than the cost of making a mistake or having it not work out."

And so I am my mother's daughter. I have put myself out there for all the voters of California because I have a deep belief that we need real change in Sacramento. I bring an outside perspective born of common sense and real-world experience for 30 years -- creating jobs, bringing people together, making sure that I'm held accountable for the things that I've done. So I would say, you know, that's -- I am my mother's daughter.

MR. LAUER:

Governor Brown. If you've lived in California over the last several decades you've got to know the name Jerry Brown. You've been in the --

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Two or three times several decades.

MR. LAUER:

Yeah, exactly. So what don't we know about you after all this time?

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Nothing. (Laughter) You know too much about me, as a matter of fact. What can I say? Because I want to talk about my mother too. I grew up in a house full of women. I had two older sisters and then I've got a younger sister. I think two of them are here in the audience. So, deeply influenced there.

But the person who really had an impact on me was my grandmother. My grandmother spent a lot of time with us. She lived until she was 96 and she used to read me Bible stories, and I remember the pictures of Moses in the bulrushes and Lot's wife and leaving that village that was destroyed.

That interested me, and that was one of the reasons why I didn't like politics. In fact, I didn't like it at all. And that's why I went to join a seminary where we had no television, no newspapers, no visitors, and we were just in this cocoon of religious fervor. And so that was my first object. But after a while, of course, I got tired of that and I decided to come out, and then I got into politics. But that was kind of the beginning that I had from very early; my grandmother had a big influence on me.

And, of course, my mother was very interesting. She is a very orderly, very frugal woman. Everything in our house was order. And that gave me an opportunity to create chaos because the order was always restored, and I've always appreciated that interrelationship between order and chaos.

MR. LAUER:

Let me start with Governor Schwarzenegger on this next one. Anybody in a position of power -- and we'll try and make these answers a little bit shorter. Anybody in a position of power has to have an ally, a confidant -- that famous campaign commercial from the presidential primaries, "Who is going to get the call at 2:00 in the morning?"

Governor, in your life -- and I've known Maria for 20 years; she will kill you if you don't say her, so take her out of it. I'll disqualify her. Who is the ally? Who is the confidant who gets the call when you really need to make an important decision?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, first of all, let me just say that it's interesting both of them talked about their mother, because in most cases , if you talk to football players, if you talk to boxers, if you talk to soccer players or business guys, so many always go back and talk about their mother, because mothers have the most influence on you.

Because I remember my mother being there when I came home after school, you know, and she would be there with the ruler -- and you know, at that time you still got whacked when you didn't' do your homework and all of those kind of things. But I remember my mother more -- even though I remember my father and doing sports with him and all of this -- but my mother I remember the most. So mothers do have the most extraordinary influence on their kids and I see it also in our family, of course.

But talking about confidants, I would say, besides Maria, Susan Kennedy, my chief of staff. I mean, she has been an absolute jewel. Even though she's a Democrat. (Laughter) And this is not saying it in a negative way here.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

It sounded a little negative there for a second. (Laughter)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Even though she's a Democrat she has worked in a Republican administration. And I have, you know, Democrats and Republicans working in my administration because I always like to hear the debate about issues, you know, the pros and cons about issues. And you get much faster to the bottom line of things, rather than just having one party sitting there and always hearing just one side. (Applause)

So she has been terrific. She could shift gears and understand what I want to do, what I want to accomplish with the state. And she has been there by my side 24 hours a day and she has been absolutely extraordinary, and I would not know how to do this job without her, really.

MR. LAUER:

All right. Ms. Whitman, who gets that call when you have an important decision to make? Who is your confidant?

MS. WHITMAN:

My husband.

MR. LAUER:

No, keep spouses out of it for a second. Who else?

MS. WHITMAN:

Well, I can't keep my husband out of it, actually, because we have been married for 30 years. And this campaign has been tough, as you might imagine, and my husband gets a -- he gets an A for husband. He has been incredible. (Applause) And I couldn't do it without him. I literally could not do it without him.

MR. LAUER:

OK.

MS. WHITMAN:

You know, I often talk to a couple of my close girlfriends. I have two very close girlfriends, we've been friends for 30 years, and so I'll give them a call too. And one of them is also name Meg. She was my roommate in college, Meg Gosia (Phonetic) and will call her when I need some outside advice.

And then I have someone who has worked with me for 12 years, not only at eBay but in the context of this campaign, a guy by the name of Henry Gomez, who has always incredibly solid advice. And he does for me what I think everyone needs, which is doesn't tell you what you want to hear, levels with you and says, "Here's the real deal, Meg." And you need someone like that in your life.

MR. LAUER:

Governor Brown, who is that person in your life?

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Well, I don't have to call in the middle of the night because my close confidant is with me in bed and during the day; my wife Anne, who is out here in the audience too. And that's an extraordinary thing, because I didn't get married until rather late in life -- very late. And I have to say, we have been working together almost every day since and it never ceases to be exciting and imaginative. So we are always thinking together. Some people think our minds meld into one another. So I don't have to -- it's just a constant conversation and presence.

Now, as far as other people, I'm pretty skeptical about most things and I like to talk to lots of people. And I find out that most people I talk to disagree with themselves, among themselves. So it's always kind of a dicey business, because you ask this one and then you ask somebody else and you get different ideas. But I like the conflict and the contradiction of lots of different recommendations and ideas, because out of that comes some clarity.

MR. LAUER:

Special interests, OK? When you started in this job you said you were going to stand up to them, you know, you were a political outsider and you wouldn't go to Sacramento and fall prey to them. Did that happen?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, you have to do a lot of standing up against the special interests and I made it very clear that if they push me around that I will push back. And I can show you my scars on the back. There were major battles that I had to fight over the last seven years.

And I think that we are beholden only to the voters and not to the special interests. And so this is why I said earlier the key thing and, I think, the key quality of a governor -- or of a mayor or of a president, or any political leader as far as that goes -- is to really always know who you're beholden to, and this is the voters. That's what the bottom line is.

MR. LAUER:

You've all said the same things. I mean, you've said, Ms. Whitman, "I will stand up to special interests."

You had a different take on, it, Governor Brown. You said, "I'm too old to be influenced by special interests."

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Did I say that?

MR. LAUER:

Yeah, you did.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

I don't remember that. (Laughter)

MR. LAUER:

But I mean, the fact of the matter is, as Governor Schwarzenegger just said, everybody can go to Sacramento and say, I'm going to stand up to the special interests, and most people come back with those scars on the back he just talked about. How do you fix it?

MS. WHITMAN:

Well, I draw on my experience of 30 years in the private sector. Many women in this audience know that when we first started our careers a lot of people said we couldn't do it, didn't have the experience, wasn't going to be cut out.

When I joined Proctor and Gamble in 1979 there were a number of women in our entering class. At the end of the first day of orientation they gave credit cards to most of the people there, but there were four women in the group who didn't get credit cards because the company said we're worried about you traveling, we're worried about will you be safe traveling.

And so, you know what? I started from the beginning, saying you've got to stand up to the people who say it can't be done. You've got to rely on your own expertise, you've got to deliver the results. And you know, I think it's interesting. People have said in this campaign, you know, "You don't have the experience to do that." Well, I've been bucking that curve since I joined the workforce 30 years ago.

And I know we can change California, I know we can make this state golden again. It's going to take toughness, it's going to take leadership and it's going to take a very specific plan to get it done, but I know we can do it. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Let me set you up on this, Governor, because I want you to answer it but I want to remind you of something you also said. You were asked about special interests when you were in government before. You said, "You bet I was influenced. You think you can collect $10 million or $20 million and not let it affect your judgment? Your behavior is influenced and that is the vice that is destroying us." So is that vice gone? Would you not have to worry about it anymore?

GOVERNOR BROWN:

I've got it all handled. (Laughter) Here's what I think you have. When you look at government, or our society, people are organized. They're organized into churches, they're organized into ethnic groups, they're organized into political parties, into unions. Businesses have their lobbyists. There are thousands of lobbyists in Washington and in the State Capitol. So everybody is buying and then you have all these different claims.

And yes, you're shaped by what you see. And so the real skill here is to be able to stand back a little bit, a certain amount of role distance, not be in your role so totally that you get absorbed in it. You've got to see the different people, the different claims. You've got to see the right way forward. And when you say this is the common good, well, a lot of other people say no it isn't, you're pro-labor or you're pro-business. So everybody has their own idea.

And I think what the governor has to do is to see as clearly as possible and articulate that common purpose, and then work like hell to forge it because we are very divided, we're getting more divided all the time and we've got to find what's common. There's a lot of commonality. There's commonality between the people that are sitting around this table together and there's a lot of difference. But when we have to get something really important done, people can rise. And things that rise, we think in a larger sense, we converge, and I think that has to be the spirit going forward. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Did you want to comment on that?

MS. WHITMAN:

So, here's the thing. In this election there will be a signal that will be sent to the legislature, to Sacramento, about what kind of California we want. Do we want the California that is the greatest place to start and grow a business, where our education system isn't at the bottom of the barrel, it's at the top of the list?

And the day after the election we have to stop being Republicans and Democrats, we have to start being Californians and say, you know what? We are going to solve the most urgent problems that we have.

And my view is the most urgent problems that we have, have to do with getting those 12.4 percent unemployment rate down; 2.3 million Californians wake up without a job every single morning. And it's a tragedy. It's tearing at the very fabric of California.

And then we have got to make sure that we spend our money effectively and efficiently. You know, Californians are very compassionate. I think people want to invest in the vital services. But we have -- we're not spending the money as effectively as we could.

And then every mom in this audience, every grandmother in this audience, every father in this audience -- I see some men -- knows that our kindergarten through 12th grade education system, we have got to change this. I don't know how many of you saw "Waiting for Superman." (Applause) "Waiting for Superman" I saw the movie. At the end I cried because those children -- I mean --

And so we are going to take this up, we are going to take on the leadership of the California Teachers Association because they are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and I am not beholden to them. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Governor Schwarzenegger, I'm watching you as these two are talking and I can't help but try to read your mind a little bit. (Laughter) And sometimes what I think I'm seeing is you're nodding your head and you're saying: It sounds good. It all sounds good, folks, you're saying all the right things. But wait until you get back to Sacramento, or get to Sacramento, and you're going to find a different place. Is that even close?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Well, I think that, first of all, you've got to have a goal and you've got to have a vision. So if you talk about the qualities of a governor or of a leader, it's always vision, number one. You've got to have a vision, because without a vision you can't go anywhere.

Number two -- and I think that both of the candidates have a very clear vision of where they want to go and all this -- but number two is to have the courage, because I always say that political courage is not political suicide. And I have gone through the beating. I have, you know, them pushing back and them attacking you and all of those things.

And especially when you try to bring people together and you're more in the center, you get the beating from the right and the beating from the left. I mean, we just recently have seen that I have gotten millions of dollars spent against me from the oil companies in Texas. But at the same time I had protests of the state employees because I had reformed the pensions. So you have it from the left and from the right.

So that's what you need to do. You just have to take on all the problems the way they exist and just push forward.

And I think Meg is absolutely correct with the education, it's a disaster. Whenever you have a system where the money first goes to the adults rather that to the children and rather than into the classroom, you have a major problem there. (Applause) And that problem we have been trying to fight. You know, we have talked about that. We have been trying to fight for years, and governors before me have tried to fight this battle.

So, even though you're maybe not successful with the whole thing and get rid of the teachers union and all those things, but you can move the ball forward. We have created great reforms in the education system. But now we have to continue on with this and do much more, because we've got to get first the money, the $50 billion that's lying there for the state education system K-12, we've got to get it first into the classrooms so we pay the teachers and we go and get high-tech equipment in there, we get the digital textbooks in there, we get the homework material, all of this stuff has to go first into the classroom. And then what is left over, that's what should go then to the bureaucracy and to the administration and to those kind of things, and to the adults. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Why don't you make a quick comment on that, and then I want to take you in another direction.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Yeah. I created a military school, of all things. In fact, some people in Oakland said I was trying to militarize the youth of Oakland. And there's a story that involves my mother. When I was growing up I didn't like to clean my room and my mother said, "If you don't clean your room we're sending you to a military school." And they'd never have to repeat that threat.

And I felt that was such a powerful idea I decided at some point in my life I was going to create a military school, and I did exactly that in Oakland and this June. Of the graduates, one out of four were accepted to the University of California -- from West Oakland. It's an incredible achievement and I'm very proud of that. (Applause) I got the idea from my mother. She was the one who instilled that thought.

MR. LAUER:

I would imagine the two of you were sitting backstage listening to Governor Schwarzenegger and I speaking a little bit earlier, and he said something that made me think of something I'd like to ask you both. It's been a brutal year. I mean, this campaign has been a bloodbath in many ways. We've heard an awful lot of negativity; Governor Schwarzenegger alluded to that. There are six days left, one week -- you've had a year. In the one week left, would either of you, or both of you, be willing to make a pledge that you would end the negativity? (Applause)

Now, I'm not trying to bankrupt the media system here in California (Laughter) but that you would pull your negative ads. You've got plenty of positive ads. (Applause) That you would pull your negative ads, replace them with positive ads. And talk to the surrogate groups as well and express that to them, that you want only positive messages out there, to give the people of California a break and let them decide on what really matters. (Applause) Would either of you accept that pledge? (Applause)

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Two things. I'd love to take down all my ads. It would save me money, as a matter of fact.

MR. LAUER:

Let's let them answer. Governor Brown, I'll start with you.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

If she wants to -- well, first of all, you have to remember sometimes negativity is in the eye of the beholder. So assuming we can agree -- (Audience response)

MR. LAUER:

Governor Brown --

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Wait a minute. Assuming we can agree on --

MR. LAUER:

If it smells like negativity, it's negativity.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Well, there's a spectrum. But I'll be glad -- if Meg wants to do that I'll be glad to do that. We could have a little discussion today and I'm sure we can work something out.

MR. LAUER:

Let's keep it going.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

The answer is --

MS. WHITMAN:

Here's what I think. The character attacks, the attacks of personal destruction, the attacks on one's character, I think are very different than a debate on the issues. It's OK that Jerry Brown and I disagree about, for example, the state capital gains tax, something that I think should be eliminated, he doesn't. It's OK to have a discussion around the issues. What I have found very challenging -- and I'll be honest about it -- is the personal attacks. The things that I have been called in this campaign -- it's not fair to the voters of California, it isn't the right thing to do. (Applause) And so I think -- listen.

MR. LAUER:

I guess what I'm saying is --

MS. WHITMAN:

You know what? I think the character attacks are very different than a debate on the issues.

MR. LAUER:

I don't want to end -- and I'm reading your mind again, Governor. I don't want to end with this being unsettled and I don't want it to end with it being a question of semantics. (Applause) We have heard -- there's been enough talk about slurs and housekeepers. We know you are both flawed people. Everybody in this room is flawed. We're all flawed. (Applause)

But what is going to accomplish what Governor Schwarzenegger has been talking about, taking California to the next step, financially in particular, is going to be your strengths, not your weaknesses. And I'm asking again, will you both pledge -- I'll give you 24 hours, because I know the wheels of a campaign don't stop overnight.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Let's be clear about it. If she takes off her negative ads, as reasonably defined, I'll take mine off. No question. We do it together.

MR. LAUER:

That's what I'm asking.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

No problem. I pledge that right now. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Governor Brown pledges he will take his negative ads off the air. Ms. Whitman, if you'll take your negative ads off the air -- and let's say -- what are we on, Tuesday? By tomorrow evening.

MS. WHITMAN:

So here's -- (Applause) So here's what I'll do. I will take down any ads that could even remotely be construed as a personal attack. But I don't think we can take down the ads that talk about where Governor Brown stands on the issues. I just think it's not the right thing to do. (Audience response)

MR. LAUER:

They seem to be asking for more. They seem to be asking for a clarification there.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

(Inaudible)

MR. LAUER:

Can we accomplish this?

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

He's shvitzing.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

Look, I've got one nice ad where I look into the camera and I just say what I'm for. You have a very nice ad where you're looking into the camera -- it's a pretty good ad, by the way. We can put both of them on and let all the other ones go off. I'll agree to that right now. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

Ms. Whitman, I think a lot of people would love you to say Governor Brown, shake hands, you're on.

MS. WHITMAN:

So here --

MR. LAUER:

Let me try a different approach. I understand it's not easy.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

You know what? I don't think it's -- by the way, I don't think it's quite fair to make decisions in the face of all this. You need a little time.

MS. WHITMAN:

Right.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

(Inaudible)

MR. LAUER:

OK. But the problem is, I jump on the plane -- should I leave this in the hands of Governor Schwarzenegger? Should he be the referee of this?

MS. WHITMAN:

Yeah, leave it in the hands of Governor Schwarzenegger.

MR. LAUER:

You know, if you look at the polling -- and since I've come to the state I've looked at the polling. And if you believe polls -- and they can be inaccurate -- you're down by some points. So some could say what you're tried to this point isn't completely working, why not try a different course? (Applause)

And Governor Brown --

MS. WHITMAN:

Hey.

MR. LAUER:

Wait, wait. Some could say, if you do believe the polls and you're leading, I would imagine you wouldn't want to only think it's because you've diminished your opponent, correct?

GOVERNOR BROWN:

No, I wouldn't.

MR. LAUER:

So get rid of all those things. Get rid of those things and let's talk positive. (Applause) Go ahead. I interrupted you and I apologize.

MS. WHITMAN:

No, I think it's important because I am new to politics. People need to know where -- (Audience response)

MR. LAUER:

Just a second, please.

MS. WHITMAN:

People need to know where I stand and also they need to know -- Jerry Brown has been in politics for 40 years and there's a long track record there. And I just -- you know, I want to make sure the people really understand what's going on here. And I'm not doing it in a mean-spirited way. I just think it's important for people to really understand what the track record was in Oakland, what the track record was as governor. (Audience response)

MR. LAUER:

All right.

MS. WHITMAN:

So listen. We are running --

MR. LAUER:

Can we agree to continue the discussion on this?

MS. WHITMAN:

Sure.

MR. LAUER:

All right. And --

MS. WHITMAN:

And we are -- you know, I -- listen, I mean, you know, former Governor Brown is exactly right. I have an ad that is relatively new that is out there talking about why I'm running, what the vision is for the state of California and my personal story (Applause) because I have lived the California Dream in ways that I could never have imagined and the California Dream is broken for many people. So I think the debate is about how do we put this dream back together, how do we make the Golden State golden again? And you know what California is? California is as much a state of mind as it is a state, isn't it? Anything should be possible in California. And, you know, I think that's what matters.

MR. LAUER:

All right. They're giving me -- go ahead, quickly, if you will.

GOVERNOR BROWN:

I've got a great ad. It starts off with Meg Whitman saying, "I moved to California 30 years ago because it's such a great place with all this opportunity."

Then the ad says, "And who was governor?" (Laughter) That's all. That's a positive ad. (Applause)

MR. LAUER:

I have one minute left.

MS. WHITMAN:

OK, but I have to respond to that.

MR. LAUER:

Go ahead, go ahead.

MS. WHITMAN:

I have to respond to that.

MR. LAUER:

Go ahead.

MS. WHITMAN:

OK. But here's what you need to know, is that Jerry Brown in many ways left this state in worse shape than he did when he inherited it. (Audience response) No, listen, let me tell you. Jerry Brown was governor for eight years. At the end of that eight years he wanted to run for another office. He wanted to be a U.S. Senator. The people who knew him the best, the voters of the state of California who had seen him up close and personal for eight years, what did they say? They said no and they didn't elect him to be a U.S. Senator. So I think, you know, we have to talk about what's actually going on here. (Audience response)

MR. LAUER:

Let me do this with the one minute I have left, if you don't mind.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

I first of all -- first of all --

MR. LAUER:

Go ahead.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

It's our conference, OK? It's Maria's and my conference. You can stay another three minutes, so don't worry about -- don't shvitz about the one minute thing and all of those kind of things. (Applause) OK? So I think we are having a good time here now. (Applause) Exactly.

I just want to say something here. I think what is important here is really -- and you know, they maybe will come to an agreement. And they're absolutely right, this is maybe too much to ask this kind of question in front of the audience, because I can see already the political spin masters in the back and all the advisors going nuts and saying oh no, why did they do that, and all.

So anyway, the bottom line is that when I look at other states and I look at their candidates I think that we have the two best candidates. That is the bottom line. I mean, here we have a woman, if she wins, that will make history as the first woman governor in the state of California, (Applause) someone that has worked her way up to the top and became a top executive, which was not easy at the time when she did it. Now it's easier for women but when she did it, it was not. So we are very proud of her accomplishments and what she has achieved and to do the personal life and the business life together and pulling all those things together and being successful.

And Jerry, of course, has been a public servant all his life, who comes from a family of public servants. (Applause) The father, who has done an extraordinary job in building California -- he's one of the people that I idolize because of the infrastructure he built and I wanted to continue building this infrastructure. I think that he did a great job as governor. He has -- you know, the bottom line is, he is a great public servant, he has been involved as governor, the attorney general, mayor of Oakland and the school building, his fanaticism about education.

So I think that both of them are great candidates. It's up to the voters then, and the way they present themselves and sell themselves. But I am proud being a Californian, I'm proud to be the California governor, that one of them is going to take over and is going to take the state further.

And I happened to disagree a little bit here with Meg about California is "going to be a Golden State again." California is a Golden State. (Applause) California is a Golden State because we maybe are down -- we maybe are down, but we're going to be back stronger than ever. And we have learned from the mistakes that we have made. We are going to be back in a big way.

Anywhere I go -- I was in Russia, I was in China, I was in Japan and South Korea and Mexico, in Canada, all over for trade missions. No matter where I went people came up to me and said, "I can't wait to get to California." They didn't talk about Iowa, they didn't talk about Oregon, they didn't talk about Ohio or anything. (Laughter) They wanted to come to California. Why? Because it is the best state in the United States, the best state in the country, (Applause) in the best country in the world. That's the bottom line.

MR. LAUER:

On that note, I think perhaps the most important thing I can say at the end of a discussion like this is, first of all, thank you both -- all three of you -- but thank you both to our candidates for appearing today together. (Applause)

Most importantly, we tell everybody that in a week you should go out and vote. No matter what, you should go out and vote and make your opinion heard. (Applause)

And on this occasion, Governor, I'd also like to say thank you for your incredible support of this women's conference, and thank you for your service to the state of California.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Thank you very much.

MR. LAUER:

Meg Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.


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