In new ads, Democrat Jerry Brown compares rival Meg Whitman to lying Pinocchio

By Samantha Young, AP
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Democrat Brown releases 1st ads attacking Whitman

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Democrat Jerry Brown on Tuesday released his first attack ads against rival Meg Whitman, portraying the Republican candidate as the notoriously lying Pinocchio with her attacks against him in the close race for California governor.

The ads signify a shift by the Brown campaign to respond to a barrage of ads the billionaire Whitman has aired since June, including her most recent negative ad which features 1992 footage of former President Bill Clinton criticizing Brown’s record during the Democratic presidential primary.

“I think it’s a very graphic reminder that Ms. Whitman is telling lies,” Brown told reporters before heading into a fundraiser in Sacramento. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Don’t believe what she says.’”

Clinton on Tuesday called Whitman’s ad misleading and gave his endorsement to Brown, who a day earlier apologized for making an inappropriate joke about the former president’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and questioning his honesty.

“The tough campaign we fought 18 years ago is not relevant to the choice facing Californians today,” Clinton said in a statement. “Jerry and I put that behind us a long time ago.”

The two politicians have had a testy relationship since the 1992 race, which featured vicious attacks from both sides. Clinton endorsed Brown’s former Democratic primary rival, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, last year before he dropped out of the race.

Brown’s 15-second campaign ads will run for an undetermined amount of time statewide on network and cable television, Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer said. He declined to say how much the campaign was spending.

It is the first time Brown has directly engaged with Whitman on the air, although union-backed groups spent about $8.6 million over the summer advertising on Brown’s behalf.

On Tuesday, Comcast Cable said it was pulling an ad by a Brown supporter, the California Teachers Association, because “the claims in the ad could not be substantiated,” company spokesman Andrew Johnson said. He said Comcast has about 2 million cable subscribers throughout Northern California.

Whitman’s campaign said several stations throughout the state had pulled the ad, but The Associated Press could not confirm that statement. A CTA spokeswoman who initially said no stations were withdrawing the ad did not immediately respond to a second call from the AP.

Brown’s absence during the summer from the airwaves and low-key campaign style have made some Democrats nervous that he wasn’t doing enough to compete effectively with Whitman, who began running her general election TV and radio advertising immediately after the June primary. The former eBay chief executive has spent $104 million of her own money so far in her bid for governor and spent the summer aggressively fundraising.

Brown, who said he wanted to conserve his cash over the summer, released his first campaign ad on Labor Day, a personal narrative reintroducing himself to voters.

His new ads show a caricature of Whitman whose nose grows when she lies about Brown’s record.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if every time Meg Whitman told a lie her nose would grow?” an announcer asks in one of the ads.

It also disputes Whitman’s charges that Brown raised taxes as governor: “Taxes went down under Jerry Brown. But Whitman’s nose keeps growing by the millions.”

Whitman’s ads have criticized Brown for raising taxes and spending a $6 billion state budget surplus when he was governor from 1975 to 1983. She repeated those claims Tuesday at an event in Culver City, and she said the Pinocchio spots were to be expected from a 40-year career politician.

“I think it’s just classic: Go on a character attack as opposed to be accountable for your record,” Whitman told reporters.

She also said she stands by her own attack ad, calling it “absolutely true,” despite criticisms that it misrepresents Brown’s record as governor.

Public polls taken over the summer have shown the race is a virtual tie.

Associated Press Writers John Rogers in Culver City and Juliet Williams in Sacramento also contributed to this report.

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