Poizner said the measure could actually harm the environment, pushing more firms to locate in the Midwest, where the cost of business is cheaper but energy needs are more likely to be met with coal power, which produces more pollution.
Whitman said new regulations to limit greenhouse gases would place a hardship on businesses and cost jobs, something the state cannot afford.
In the competition for conservative credentials, each candidate demanded that the other explain past support for Democratic politicians — raised in both their advertising campaigns — and accused each other of having ties to the same Democrat, former Vice President Al Gore.
Poizner said Whitman had endorsed Gore, which Whitman denied. She pointed to Poizner's large political contribution to the former vice president. In the past Poizner has said that the check was from his wife and that he backed Bush.
Whitman explained her past support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer as a business decision: "She was against new taxes on the Internet. I joined her to join with a group of executives on that one issue."
And both sought to distance themselves from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate fellow Republican whose popularity in his party has long been on the wane.
"Steve Poizner called himself an Arnold Schwarzenegger Republican when he ran for insurance commissioner," Whitman said. "Now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not so popular anymore, he is absolutely running the other direction."
Poizner lobbed back, "I am not like Gov. Schwarzenegger or most people who have run for office.... I have the character and tenacity and backbone to get done what I say I am going to get done."