Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 04/28/2010 08:38:11 PM PDT

CHINO HILLS – Meg Whitman may have a better chance of getting the Republican nomination for governor, but that’s not stopping Steve Poizner from telling people why he’s the better candidate.

Poizner, the state’s insurance commissioner, outlined his plans at a luncheon sponsored by the nonpartisan Inland Empire Chamber Legislative Alliance at the McCoy Equestrian Center in Chino Hills on Wednesday.

He shared his agenda, which includes plans to reduce state government, support business retention, enact across-the-board tax cuts and stop illegal immigration.

Despite Whitman’s lead in recent polls, Poizner made it clear Wednesday that he is still in the fight.

“I’m running for governor because I think California is totally headed in the wrong direction,” Poizner said. “I want to take California in a completely different direction. Bold, sweeping reforms are required. Half measures simply won’t do.”

Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, had a 49-point lead over Poizner in a Field Poll taken last month, but that margin has been cut to 22 points, according to a SurveyUSA Poll.

During his 30-minute speech to business owners, Poizner revealed plans to revoke business licenses if illegal immigrants are hired, and an aim to end in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at state colleges and universities.

Kitty Mikesell, owner of Hippo Custom Imprinting in Chino, said she was encouraged by Poizner’s stand against illegal immigration.

“My grandparents came here through Ellis Island, and I’m furious that people think they have a right to invade our country and then demand they have rights and that we should change our laws and rules to suit them,” she said.

“I’m of the theory if you’re here illegally, you’re deported. You’re out of here. You have no rights and no rights to any type of taxpayer benefits at all.”

Stephanie Testa, owner of Options In-Home Care in Claremont, was more skeptical. Testa said she’s a member of the tea-party movement.

“I think his ideas are good, and I think he can do a good job,” Testa said. “What I don’t appreciate is that his wife gave Al Gore a $10,000 check, and I just don’t know how I could support somebody who supported Al Gore. He did sign the check, and he is pro-choice.”

Chino Hills Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman has endorsed Poizner, but he added he would back Whitman in the general election if she wins the June 8 primary.

“(Poizner) supports tax cuts and has both government and business experience,” Hagman said.

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