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Jerry Brown comes out swinging at Meg Whitman [Updated]

June 9, 2010 | 12:49 pm

A day after Meg Whitman won the Republican primary for governor, Democratic nominee Jerry Brown kicked off his general-election campaign by mocking his wealthy rival's lavish campaign spending and her history as chief executive of EBay.

"She talks about waste and abuse," Brown told reporters at a morning news conference in downtown Los Angeles. "She paid herself $120 million, and then EBay had to lay off 10% of its workforce. Now, is that waste and abuse? Is that what you want?"

The state attorney general, who faced only token opposition in the Democratic primary, ridiculed Whitman's spending of $71 million of her personal fortune on the campaign so far, suggesting it shows she would lack fiscal discipline as governor.

"Whitman only has a history of spending money wildly to get whatever she wants," Brown said. "I have a history of reining in my desire to get this or get that, or spend this, in the campaign or the government."

Brown cast his tenure as governor from 1975 to 1983 as proof he could impose the kind of austerity that California needs to recover from its fiscal crisis – and rejected Whitman's charge that his record shows he would tax and spend too much.

"Look, she wasn't here most of the time, and she wasn't voting or paying attention," he said, an allusion to Whitman's record of not voting most of her adult life. "When I was governor of California, we built up the largest surplus in history -- $4.5 billion. We created 1.9 million jobs. We reduced taxes by billions, OK?"

Asked about Whitman campaign allegations that he bears responsibility for a state takeover of Oakland schools, the former mayor cast blame on the local school board and blasted Whitman's voting record once more.

"Because she doesn't vote and probably doesn't know how things work in California, school boards are elected by the people," he said.

[For the record 1:49 p.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Jerry Brown was first givernor from 1979 to 1987. ]

[Updated at 2:11 p.m.:  Whitman said  Brown should start communicating to voters what he would do as governor instead of demanding she participate in a multitude of town halls.

"There will be plenty of debates," she said, speaking to reporters after the state Republican Party's victory rally in Anaheim. "What I would say is Jerry Brown, instead of calling for debates, he should lay out his plan for California."

She noted that she had put out a 48-page policy book, though Brown's website was thin.

"No one has been more specific about a plan for California than me," Whitman said. "Go to Jerry Brown's website, there's nothing there. He ought to put a specific plan down, and then we can have a good debate."

Whitman declined to say how much more of her personal wealth she would spend on her gubernatorial run beyond the $71 million she had invested in the primary. When a reporter noted that her overall campaign spending cost about $90 per vote, she said the money was well spent.

"I'm the Republican nominee for governor for the state of California, so I am delighted with the results," she said]

-- Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta