By Rob Hotakainen and Jack Chang
rhotakainen@mcclatchydc.com
Published: Monday, Jun. 7, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 7, 2010 – 7:17 am

GOP gubernatorial front-runner Meg Whitman said Sunday that Sacramento has “a spending problem of epic proportions” and vowed to crack down on mismanagement and fraud if she’s elected governor in November.

Appearing before a cheering crowd of a few hundred supporters at a rally in Elk Grove, Whitman promised to focus on jobs, spending, education and illegal immigration in the Governor’s Office.

“If America can put a man on the moon, why can we not secure the border?” she asked.

Her chief rival in Tuesday’s primary, Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, campaigning in Southern California, pivoted from illegal immigration to social issues during a campaign stop at the New Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Norwalk.

“Being a dad has taught me why exactly gay marriage is wrong. I’ve learned firsthand the importance of kids having a mom and a dad,” he said. “So when I go out there promoting the concept of traditional marriage, I do so from that experience of being a father.”

The two candidates have battled hardest in this primary for the votes of conservative Republicans. Heading into Tuesday’s election, Whitman emphasized her plans to cut spending, and added illegal immigration to the list of issues she would emphasize as governor.

Former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson introduced Whitman, saying she’d be “tough as nails” on immigration issues.

“If they thought I was tough, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he said.

Whitman said Californians are approaching “a historic election” and that she would work to improve the state’s business climate, noting that the state has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 12.6 percent.

Poizner discussed social issues at the church, which Pastor Reggie Bowie said is dedicated to “traditional values.”

With the church band standing behind him, Poizner started his speech talking about his daughter Rebecca, who graduated from high school over the Memorial Day weekend.

Poizner, who has supported taxpayer funding for abortion in the past, said he has learned from his daughter “the importance of my positions about life and abortion.”

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