Jerry Brown, responding to a Meg Whitman ad in California featuring Bill Clinton criticizing his record as Governor, mocked Clinton in some impromptu remarks that were taped, creating a media furor. (Both clips are below). The fight between Clinton and Brown goes back to 1992, with Brown a candidate for President and Clinton using a CNN report to essentially say Brown had misrepresented his record on taxes as Governor. (The author of the CNN report now admits that the CNN data had errors.) But Brown is running against Meg Whitman, not Bill Clinton, and he fell headlong into the trap laid out by Whitman. From Chris Cillizza:
“That evil cackling sound you hear is [Whitman chief strategist] Mike Murphy celebrating the success of the crude and cynical trap he set,” said one longtime California Democratic strategist.
The strategist added that Brown’s reaction to the Whitman ad was “clever, but strategically idiotic — it represents everything insiders simultaneously love and fear about his campaign skills and instincts.”
Ah yes Mike Murphy, a political consultant to the Republican stars (Mitt Romney and John McCain and many others) advising the well financed Meg Whitman campaign. Whitman is a Romney acolyte, and a victory by her in California would be a boon to Mitt in 2012.
Of course Brown, through his impulsive response, has allowed this to grow into a monster, and may have precluded help from the very popular in California Bill Clinton. Clinton has not spoken publicly about the Brown insult, but had endorsed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome in the Democratic primary before Newsome pulled out. And you thought the Massachusetts race was fun?
Read “The Fix” over at the Washington Post, with some great insight into this Clinton-Brown dustup.
Mark Halperin’s take on the Clinton-Brown feud here.