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Whitman calls "whore" comment a slur, refuses further comment

October 10, 2010 |  4:51 pm

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman declined comment Sunday about being called a “whore” by someone associated with rival Jerry Brown’s campaign.

“It’s a slur and I’m not going to dignify it with a response,” said Whitman, after speaking to hundreds of supporters at a Van Nuys rally with former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The Times reported Thursday that Brown and his associates had been inadvertently recorded discussing campaign strategy after the candidate failed to hang up a telephone after leaving a voice mail message. In the recording, which is muffled and in parts inaudible, Whitman was called a “whore” at least twice.

Aides to Brown said the candidate did not make the remark but said they could not identify who uttered it. The campaign issued a brief apology Thursday night, but Brown has not spoken about the matter and has not held a public event since, although he had been scheduled to visit a get-out-the-vote effort organized by his campaign Saturday.

Whitman’s campaign aides have been blasting Brown over the matter, calling it offensive to all women, but Whitman had so far refused to weigh in. Until news of the comment broke, Whitman had been under siege for more than a week over the revelation that she had employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper for nine years.

The candidate demurred when asked if she had ever heard anyone associated with her campaign make an inappropriate comment and called for the media to focus on the state’s pressing concerns.

“I think voters want a campaign on the issues. They want to know what I’m going to do about jobs, what I’m going to do about education, how we’re going to cut wasteful spending,” she said. “I think the media needs to turn the attention back to the issues that are in front of every Californian between now and Nov. 2. My view is this election is an incredibly important election. People really want to know who’s going to solve their problems.”

At the rally, Whitman stuck to her typical campaign script about her three priorities – creating jobs, reducing government spending and fixing schools.

“I’m excited, we have 24 more days! And in 24 more days, we’re going to have a chance to elect the first job-creator as governor of California. Also we have a chance to elect the first woman governor of California,” Whitman said to cheers.  “And I will be the governor who says no to wasteful spending. I will be the governor who says no to more taxes, and I’ll be the governor who says yes to more jobs.”

Giuliani, wearing a lucky set of cowboy boots because the Yankees were competing in a playoff game, held up his experience being elected mayor of a deeply Democratic city as proof that Whitman can do the same in blue-leaning California.

“A Republican wins in a Democratic area when people are frustrated and upset with what’s going on. I ran in 1993 for mayor, I got elected by basically saying the following: ‘I cannot do any worse. Give me a shot,’ ” he said to laughs, before turning serious.

“This isn’t about Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,” Giuliani said. “It’s about having a chief executive who can make decisions and will run the state in a sensible way, like a business, where you spend what you can afford to spend, where you lower taxes, and that’s how you attract business and that’s how you grow jobs.”

-- Seema Mehta in Van Nuys

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