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Brown: The only way Whitman can win is 'to tear me down'

September 16, 2010 | 10:11 am

After being pounded by a controversial ad featuring President Clinton, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown is accusing Republican rival Meg Whitman of running a dishonest campaign. “I think what they’ve realized is that she is so unpopular now that the only way she can win is to tear me down, not build her up,” Brown said. “So you’ll hear very little about the Whitman record going forward. It’s all going to be this fuselage of misinformation, disinformation and outright deception over the next six and a half weeks.”

The comments came during a morning interview with KGO-AM (810) in response to an ad Whitman is running that features Clinton attacking Brown’s record on taxes during a Democratic primary debate in 1992. The report upon which Clinton relied – a CNN story on Brown’s governorship – has since been proven inaccurate. Clinton has called the ad “misleading” and endorsed Brown. Whitman is standing by the ad, saying that if annual state taxes were averaged over Brown's eight-year term, the average would have been higher than when he took office.

Brown also seemed to defend an ad by one of his biggest labor allies, the California Teachers Assn., which says Whitman would cut billions of dollars from education. After legal threats from Whitman's lawyers, CTA recut the ad, qualifying the claims with the word "could," and stations that had taken the ad down have now agreed to put it back on the air. Brown said the claims in the ad were reasonable. “Half of the money from our general fund for California goes to California schools. You could, I think, very fairly say that her tax plan will take billions from the school kids of California. I think that is absolutely true.”

Still, when asked why he didn’t sue, like Whitman, to remove the Clinton ad from the airwaves, Brown said candidates face a higher legal threshold to prove ads are false. “If you sue a corporation they can be required to show some reasonable basis for what they are saying,” he said. “That same rule doesn’t apply for candidates.” Whitman’s campaign took that as Brown backing down. "The ad run by Jerry Brown's union allies continues to be false,” said spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera. “Even Jerry Brown declined to defend the CTA's ads of shameless lies that are propping up his campaign. Again, in their second bite at the apple, CTA gets an F for accuracy."

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento