Debra J. Saunders

Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen acknowledged that Poizner's political philosophy has undergone a journey. "The more he got involved in politics, the more he saw what happens in Sacramento and saw exactly how spending was being abused and what the high tax burden does, the more conservative he became on fiscal issues."

Some Poizner critics resent the way the insurance commissioner trashed this year's budget deal signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because it included tax increases. Yes, they know Whitman trashed it, too. Yes, they know how close Whitman and Poizner are on the issues. But they like her tone better.

Whitman's deputy campaign manager, Tucker Bounds, believes Poizner is floundering because "he is an underwhelming candidate who's been running a subpar campaign and was virtually denying any tie to the Republican Party just a few years ago."

Ouch. Jon Fleischman, publisher of the conservative FlashReport blog, acknowledged the everyman-versus-superwoman factor: "Steve is very much a kind of an ordinary guy as opposed to Meg Whitman, who carries with her a bit of celebrity."

She's a Silicon Valley star who gets the endorsements of Wilson, Romney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., because they're members of the Fellow Big Shot Club, while Poizner is at heart an engineer, who, like rival Campbell, actually shows up at the debates.

There is an undersize elephant in the room -- the Stature Issue. When Whitmaniacs tell you that Poizner is "underwhelming" or "unimpressive," you have to wonder if what they really mean is -- not that they'd want to admit it because it's soooo superficial -- he's short.

He's not Gary Coleman short, and he's taller than Napoleon Bonaparte. But he is short, and he wears glasses and you have to wonder if his button-down looks keep Poizner from wowing the fundraiser circuit.

How short is he? "This isn't the NBA draft," Agen shot back. "This is serious; we're electing a governor. Voters want somebody who's going to bring the jobs back."

Of course, Agen is right. Performance -- not size -- is what matters. Besides, as Hoffenblum scoffed, "Not enough voters know what the candidates look like."

Debra J. Saunders

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