Clinton backs Brown in Calif. gov race

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 16, 2010


SACRAMENTO (Legal Newsline) - Bill Clinton has endorsed California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, even after Brown got in a dig at the former Democratic president over the weekend.

Brown assailed Clinton to a crowd at an East Los Angeles event Sunday by referring to Clinton's dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton made no reference to Brown's remarks.

"Meg Whitman. She stops at nothing. She's even got Clinton lying about me. That's right. No, did you see that? Where he said I raised taxes. It's a lie," he told the crowd.

"I mean Clinton's a nice guy but whoever said he always told the truth? You remember, right? There's that whole story there about did he or didn't he. OK, I did... I did not have taxes with this state."

The last line was a play on Clinton's defense in the 1998 scandal. At the time, Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

In a statement, Clinton offered his full support for Brown's campaign against Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate.

"I strongly support Jerry Brown for Governor because I believe he was a fine Mayor of Oakland, he's been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence," Clinton said in the statement.

The two men have clashed in the past -- almost two decades ago as candidates for the Democratic nomination for president.

In his statement, the former president said the past is in the past.

"I agree with Jerry Brown that his opponent's ad featuring a charge I made about his record on taxes in a 1992 debate was based on an erroneous CNN report and therefore the ad is misleading," Clinton said.

"Moreover the tough campaign we fought 18 years ago is not relevant to the choice facing Californians today. Jerry and I put that behind us a long time ago."

Whitman's campaign, in response to Clinton's endorsement, said in a statement that they expected the former president to endorse Brown.

"The fact remains that President Clinton's criticism was correct. Jerry Brown turned a surplus into a billion-dollar deficit and campaigned vigorously against Proposition 13, and it's a fact that, on average, taxes went up over his eight years as governor. He has supported higher taxes for decades, including as mayor, and last year he campaigned for what would have been the largest tax increase in state history. Higher taxes kill jobs, and we welcome a vigorous debate with Jerry Brown over his 40-year record of favoring higher taxes on Californians," said Andrea Jones Rivera, a spokeswoman for Whitman's campaign.

Brown said he was proud to have Clinton's approval.

"I am deeply honored to have been endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, who, after his accomplishment-rich presidency, continues to demonstrate his commitment to bettering our state, our nation, and our world, each and every day," Brown said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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