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Clinton endorses Brown for governor, ignores Brown's slight

September 14, 2010 | 12:27 pm

Photo: File photo of former President Bill Clinton. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Jerry Brown’s bid to become governor on Tuesday, saying he and Brown had put the ugliness from their 1992 primary battle behind them and that Republican Meg Whitman’s ad that featured him was misleading.

"I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland, he's been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence," Clinton said in a statement to The Times.

The former president became an issue in the gubernatorial contest last week, when Whitman began airing a 30-second ad featuring footage of him trying to refute Brown's claim that he had lowered taxes as governor of California from 1975 to 1983.

"CNN — not me, CNN — says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, 'just plain wrong,' " Clinton says in the footage used in the ad. "He raised taxes as governor of California. ... He doesn't tell the people the truth."

As The Times reported Friday, the CNN report was inaccurate. The Brown campaign has called on Whitman to take down the ad; the Whitman campaign has refused.

Clinton agreed that the ad was misleading, and said his claim was based on an erroneous report.

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

Brown rekindled the matter over the weekend, though, when he questioned Clinton’s ability to tell the truth and brought up the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Brown apologized on Monday.

Clinton did not mention the slight in his statement. He did say that his endorsement of Gavin Newsom in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, which was widely viewed as further evidence of his hostility to Brown, was prompted by Newsom’s strong support of wife Hillary Clinton’s 2008 president bid.

"I endorsed Mayor Gavin Newsom for governor before he withdrew and became a candidate for lieutenant governor because of his strong support for Hillary in the 2008 primary season and because of his impressive record of innovation and accomplishment,” Clinton said. “He can really help revitalize California as lieutenant governor."

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

Photo: Former President Clinton. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press

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