Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown have found a new way to win voters' hearts: compare the other to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the embattled incumbent whose popularity is in the tank.
Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, started airing a TV ad Tuesday sampling video clips of Schwarzenegger and Whitman, years apart, making sometimes-verbatim appeals about their qualifications and ideas. It suggests the Republican governor failed in office and Whitman would too.
Whitman's campaign returned fire within hours, saying Brown, on certain environmental and tax policies, is the candidate more like Schwarzenegger.
It was a lot of dumping for one day on the lame duck governor. And it all could make for awkward conversation next week, when the three of them are scheduled to appear together on a stage in Long Beach for a discussion about governing.
Still, if the use of Schwarzenegger as a punching bag was in any way surprising, it is only that it took so long. The governor's approval rating is a near record-low 23 percent, about matching Gov. Gray Davis' mark in 2003, the year he was recalled and replaced – by Schwarzenegger.
Brown likely had the advertisement "in the can for some time," said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, saving its release for two weeks before Election Day.
In it, Brown depicts Whitman as an echo of Schwarzenegger. She wants to "build a new California." He wanted to rebuild it. Both politicians "don't owe anyone anything" and believe governing is "all about leadership."
Said Schwarzenegger, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Ditto Whitman, except where Schwarzenegger said "expecting," she said "hoping for."
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