Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, said she wants to be California's "comeback coach" and lead the state back to a top position for new business and jobs.
"I want to coach this state back into being the very best state to start a business, the very best state to grow a business," said Whitman, laying out her plan for jobs.
Brown, who has been much less visible than Whitman so far in this campaign season, countered that he had the experience needed to fix California's deep budget problems.
"I have the knowledge, the stamina and independence to pull this budget process out of the shadows of confusion and obscurity and into the front rooms of the people of this state," said Brown before a crowd in San Diego. He did not elaborate on how he proposed to close the state's structural deficit that hit $19 billion this year.
Whitman pointed out that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's own task force had determined several ways to close the deficit but that he had lost the political will to make the necessary changes. She said as governor, she would be able to make those changes using the executive skills she learned as a CEO.
"I come from Silicon Valley - only 130 miles from Sacramento - but it might as well be a million miles based on how we think about innovation, how we tackle problems," she said.
Whitman has sought to distinguish herself as a political outsider with the business know-how to create a thriving economy and bolster job growth. An independently wealthy billionaire, she has spent about $104 million of her own money in the campaign.