Commentary: Campaign ads that question candidate's record are legitimate

Democrat Jerry Brown made political points by saying he’d take down his negative campaign advertisements if opponent Meg Whitman would do the same. The Republican refused the offer made at Maria Shriver’s high-profile women’s conference Tuesday and got booed by the crowd.

But Whitman took the right position on the question, while Brown played political games with the issue, as his opponent tried to flesh out her explanation.

Whitman said there’s a difference between personal attack ads and ads that question an opponent’s record. Moderator Matt Lauer of NBC wrongly dismissed her explanation as a “question of semantics.”

A candidate must be able to challenge an opponent’s record in ads. There is nothing wrong with that as long as the ads accurately reflect the record. Clearly, personal attacks aren’t useful in a campaign, but that is far different than ads questioning an opponent’s record.

Whitman made this very clear in her statement: “Here’s what I’ll do: I will take down any ads that could even remotely be construed as a personal attack. But I don’t think we can take down the ads that talk about where Gov. Brown stands on the issues.

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