Meg Whitman declines Jerry Brown challenge to stop negative ads
At a women's conference, moderator Matt Lauer challenges California's gubernatorial candidates to stop negative ads. Jerry Brown said he would if Meg Whitman did. Whitman skirted the issue.
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Ms. Whitman shared the stage with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and her Democratic challenger, Jerry Brown, at the Women's Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Tuesday. In response to a moderator's challenge to the candidates that they "drop all negative ads up to election day," Mr. Brown responded: "If Meg wants to do that, I'll be glad to do that."
Whitman was booed by the crowd of 14,000 women in attendance when she said, “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.” [Editor's note: The original version misattributed a quote to Meg Whitman.]
“This was a largely Republican-leaning group and when [Whitman] refused to take the pledge, they got surly,” she says.
First, the forum at the annual conference traditionally is not confrontational or political, but rather focuses on leadership issues. Indeed, for 40 minutes Tuesday, it had dwelt on questions like, “Who’s your greatest influence?” and “Who do you call in a crisis?”
Moreover, media experts say negative ads often do work, and with Whitman trailing in the polls and running short on time, she would be loath to abandon them. The question played right into Brown's hands.