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Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown pushed on negative campaign ads at Long Beach event

Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman were pressed by NBC's Matt Lauer to end their negative advertising for the final week of the gubernatorial campaign.

Lauer, who moderated a discussion involving the two candidates and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, asked each of the candidates to take down their negative ads until election day.

Brown flinched at first, saying "negativity is in the eye of the beholder," but came around when the crowd began to articulate its disapproval.

Brown eventually agreed to the proposal, saying he would take down all of his negative ads if Whitman did the same. Brown proposed that he and Whitman only run ads that feature the candidates speaking directly to the camera for the remainder of the campaign.

"We can put both of them on and let the other ones go off. I'll agree to that right now," he said.

Whitman said she would continue to air ads that show where Brown stands on the issues.

"I will take down any ads that can be construed as a negative attack. But I don't think we can take down the ads that talk about where Gov. Brown is on the issues," Whitman said.

The raucous crowd at the Long Beach Convention Center roared its disapproval at Whitman's equivocation. And it was Brown who eventually threw his Republican opponent a rope.

"I don't think it's quite fair to make decisions in the middle of all this," he said as the crowd pushed Whitman for a firmer commitment.

For his part, Schwarzenegger again refused to endorse either candidate, but said California was blessed with the two best political candidates in the country.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

 
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