Oct. 25, 2010— -- With eight days left until Californians head to voting booths, the Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, says she's confident of victory even though she trails Democrat Jerry Brown in the most recent polling.
"We're going to win this," said Meg Whitman in an interview today with ABC's Diane Sawyer.
Whitman has spent some $141 million of her own money for a fighting chance at the governor's mansion, but the former eBay CEO is still 13 points behind Brown in the latest Los Angeles Times poll.
"Is that a hit in the chest?" Sawyer asked as they rode Whitman's campaign bus.
"No, because the L.A. Times poll is biased and it's bunk," Whitman replied. "Every year, the L.A. Times comes out with a poll about a week before the election that's very heavily skewed to the candidate they choose. Who did the L.A. Times endorse? Jerry Brown."
Watch "World News with Diane Sawyer" this week for more from California.
Whitman said that her own campaign's polling puts the race much closer.
"Maybe I'm a point or two behind," Whitman said. "What's happening in California, and you can see it in the rest of the country, these polls are bouncing because people are unsure about what to do."
California voters have certainly had no shortage of people telling them what to do. With record spending on advertising, the airwaves have been filled with political messages for months, and even for billionaire Whitman, $141 million is a lot to spend on the race.
"Is it possible that at some point, it's just too much money?" Sawyer asked.
"Well, I think that people need to understand the unions...pour money into politics in this state. They run Sacramento," Whitman said. "Because I have invested my own money, I don't owe anyone anything. I only owe the voters of California."
With all the ad spending, the race has turned ugly at times.
"I've been called a Nazi. I've been called a whore. I've been called a liar," Whitman said. "And I think the reason is that Jerry Brown can't run on his record. His record as governor was terrible. His record in Oakland was terrible."
Brown apologized for an incident caught on tape in which one of his staffers suggested calling Whitman a "whore" in a campaign ad. His campaign manager later called it "salty" language.
Whitman: "We Had to Follow the Law" on Illegal Employee
Whitman has also dealt with accusations that she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper. Her former employee, Nicky Diaz, came forward in September, saying Whitman had fired her just before the campaign, after nine years of service, when she asked for help with immigration problems.
"I felt like she was throwing me away like a piece of garbage," Diaz said at a press conference organized by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
Polling among California's Hispanic voters has shown that they disapprove of Whitman's handling of the housekeeper, but today Whitman said there was nothing she could have done differently. She says she fired Diaz when she learned of her illegal status.
"We had to follow the law. We had to let her go," Whitman said. "It broke my heart that she was undocumented. I chose not to turn her in. And Jerry Brown and his union friends made an example of her. They pulled a political stunt with her."
Whitman thinks her focus on jobs and the economy is registering with California's voters. The word "Jobs" is plastered on the side of her campaign bus, and she has promised to revive small business in the state by cutting bureaucracy.
"How many jobs would it be possible to create in this state by the end of 2011?" Sawyer asked.
"I've said by 2015, two million new private sector jobs, so maybe half a million to a million of that," Whitman said. "You know, everyone wants to live in California. It is so beautiful... But we've made it so hard for businesses here and for job creators. We just have to get back to the basics of 'This has to work for them. Be the Golden State, where everything is possible.'"
Whitman points to her own experience as CEO of eBay, though Brown argues that being a governor is very different from working in a corporate office. As a former governor, Brown argues he's a proven leader with the necessary political experience.
"Jerry Brown has experience that the people of California didn't like. He has experience raising taxes, increasing regulation," Whitman said. "On the other hand, I have brought people together. I have balanced budgets. I have helped create jobs. eBay started with 30 employees when I joined. We had 16,000 employees when I left."
Whitman: 'I Would Do It All Over Again'
It's certainly been a long race. Whitman launched her campaign at the beginning of 2009. With just days to go before a final result, she says she's happy with her choices.
"Would you do it all over again in a minute, no matter what the outcome?"
"Yes, I would do it all over again in a minute because you know why? California really matters. And we can lead the nation out of this recession."