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WhitmanYelpr.jpgRepublican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman spoke this afternoon to a young crowd of Yelp employees in their San Francisco offices. It wasn't Folsom, and the employees weren't pitching softballs.

First, a woman in the audience called a lie Whitman's ad featuring a clip of President Bill Clinton criticizing Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in a 1992 presidential debate. In the clip, Clinton relies on a discredited CNN report about the tax burden in California when Brown was governor, from 1975 to 1983, and the employee asked Whitman why she wouldn't pull it.

Whitman said "the facts in the ad are accurate," saying an alternative calculation of the tax burden supported her claim.

Whitman said Clinton, who endorsed Brown on Tuesday, did so because he is a "loyal Democrat," not because he was wrong.

Later, a man asked if it wasn't "cynical and disingenuous" for Whitman to spend so much money on her campaign and to not engage in unscripted debate.

Whitman, who is scheduled to debate Brown three times, plunked another $15 million of her own money into her campaign on Tuesday, raising her total self-contribution to just more than $119 million, a record for a non-presidential race.

The billionaire former eBay CEO said her self-financing is beneficial, affording her independence from political donors.

"It means that I am not beholden to the special interests," Whitman said.

The event Wednesday was on the 10th floor of a Mission Street building, where employees beforehand milled about a kitchen - it featured fresh fruit, coffee and a beer tap - and a game area with a pool and ping pong tables.

In a variation of her standard stump speech about education, jobs and spending, Whitman criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his six-day trade mission to Asia, saying he had decamped while the state is in crisis.

Whitman said that if Yelp had a site outage, "I don't think Jeremy (Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman) would have decamped to China."

Schwarzenegger, returning today from Asia, has defended the trip as necessary to promote California products abroad. He visited China, Japan and South Korea, significant trading partners. His departure was criticized by some observers because the state budget is more than two months late.

Whitman said Yelp, the online user-review site, is "one of the hottest Web companies" in the United States. Her address was largely her typical stump speech, focusing on jobs, spending and education.

"We're going to have to fundamentally change the business climate in California," she said.

Whitman said, "We just can't afford a third term of Jerry Brown."

Yelp has also invited Brown to speak to employees.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, left, is introduced by Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman during a campaign stop a Yelp headquarters in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press.


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