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GOP gubernatorial candidate says education, job creation will be priorities

Meg Whitman cites her economic experience as major strength

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said Thursday the main focus of her campaign will be education and job creation and retention.

In a follow-up phone interview to her Wednesday keynote address at the Professional BusinessWomen of California conference in San Francisco, Whitman said, "The first thing is that we have to get the job creation and job retention engine going."

She said, "I think that the most important issue for Californians next year will be jobs, the state of the economy, how to get California back on track."

Whitman, who has never run for office before, said that her vision of a healthy government is one that is efficient and energetic and, if elected, she'd run the state like a business.

"I understand the economy very well and have the leadership experience that I think will set me apart in running a very large state with a very severe budget crisis," she said.

Whitman said, "We have a government that we can't afford."

Government spending could be reduced, she said, by bringing the cost of bureaucracy and number of state employees under control.

She acknowledged the controversial issue of same-sex marriage in California, saying while she is a proponent of civil unions, "I think marriage should be between a man and woman."

Whitman announced her decision in February to run for governor in 2010. The 52-year-old enters a Republican primary field with candidates including state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, 52, and former Congressman Tom Campbell, 56.

On the Democratic side, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, 41, has already hit the campaign trail. Attorney General Jerry Brown, 71, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 56, are also rumored to be potential Democratic candidates.

Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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