OAKLAND — One of the most bitter rivalries in the Democratic Party overshadowed the gubernatorial race Monday as Democratic candidate Jerry Brown apologized to former President Bill Clinton for questioning his honesty and referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal during a weekend campaign appearance.
Brown had made the remarks while responding to a TV ad by Republican rival Meg Whitman featuring Clinton's attacks on Brown during the 1992 presidential primary, when the two men had traded often nasty jabs.
In a video that appeared on a Time magazine blog, Brown was shown criticizing the ad as dishonest and adding, "Clinton's a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?
"You remember, right? There's that whole story there about 'did he or didn't he?' "
The tone was different Monday at a hastily called news conference in Brown's Oakland headquarters, where Brown said, "Bill Clinton was an excellent president. It was certainly wrong for me to make a joke about an incident from many years ago, and I'm sorry."
Brown said he had talked to "a key guy" for Clinton on Monday and conveyed his apologies. The Clinton Foundation did not respond to an e-mail and phone message left by The Bee on Monday afternoon.
After apologizing, Brown pivoted to Whitman and chided her for running the Clinton TV spot even after one of the sources cited by Clinton in the ad, former CNN reporter Brooks Jackson, wrote over the weekend that he had been wrong about details of Brown's first two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983.
"If Whitman knows they're false, why does she continue to run this advertising, bombarding millions of Californians with false information?" Brown asked. "I think she does it because as a billionaire, she thinks she can make things up and lie in a political campaign."
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