Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman
Gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman have both repudiated partisan politics and attacks made against their campaigns.
But despite their concern about partisan attacks, Politics Verbatim has documented hundreds of attacks the two candidates have made since the beginning of the campaign.
In a recent interview with Time magazine, Brown concluded that personal attacks may be the determining factor in deciding the next California governor.
But you know what decides it? Who f_____ up. Who says the wrong thing. Who insults someone. That will be the deciding factor … I'm not one to stay on message. Maybe not. But if I say something, you know I mean it. You know who it's coming from. That much hasn't changed.
After dissecting comments from more than 400 documents and multimedia articles since the two began their campaigns, Politics Verbatim has found a total of 353 “candidate attacks.” Candidate attacks include any statement in which either the Brown or Whitman campaign takes a shot at each other or another political target. Politics Verbatim is a new site created by California Watch that tracks the statements of Brown and Whitman.
The documents include news articles, press releases, TV ads, attack ads – virtually every public statement the two campaigns have made since March.
For example, on May 19, Brown commented on the millions of dollars that Whitman has spent on her campaign: "If she treats your money like she treats her own money, we're in trouble."
Also on July 11, Brown said about Whitman's 48-page policy booklet which contains her plan for California: "She doesn't have a plan," said Brown. "She has a pamphlet. And most of it is pictures."
And on March 2, Whitman attacked Brown’s political legacy: “Jerry Brown has had a 40-year career in politics which has resulted in a trail of failed experiments, undelivered promises, big government spending and higher taxes.”
So far, Brown leads in the number of attacks made.
Most of Brown’s attacks are aimed at Whitman, though a few are also aimed at other targets, such as the Legislature and Whitman’s primary opponent Steve Poizner.
Whitman has taken 167 shots at other candidates and political targets – many aimed at Brown, Poizner and the California Nurses Association.
"Attacking a candidate for flimsy ties to a private company is exactly what you would expect from a desperate liberal – and I guess that includes Steve Poizner, too."
The attacks between the candidates vary in degree.
For example, Whitman, who has spent $91 million on her campaign so far, has released three television ads attacking Brown’s 40-year-political legacy, his connection to labor unions, and accusing him of having "no plan" for California. The ads have reached millions of people around the state, although the first ad was called misleading by FactCheck.org, and the LA Times took issue with some of the facts in the second and third.
She has also done some other interactive campaigning, such as allowing viewers of her TV ads the chance to order a free Whitman bumper sticker by pressing a few buttons on their remote control, and launching a website devoted to attacking Brown’s 40 years in politics (one of seven websites the campaign currently operates).
Since winning the primary, Brown has yet to release TV ads of any kind, and has banked about $23 million. As Joe Garofoli noted in his blog about the race: “(Brown is) working the ‘free media’ circuit because, well, it's free.” (However, some of his Democratic allies have released TV ads attacking Whitman for her spotty voting record and her ties to Goldman Sachs. The Goldman Sachs ad was called misleading by the LA Times.)