In rare simultaneous campaigning, each faults the other on past experience or the lack of it.

By Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

August 27, 2010

Reporting from San Diego and City of Industry —
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown argued Thursday that his experience makes him the only candidate who can right California, and he slashed at Republican rival Meg Whitman by calling her a neophyte who has run an ugly and inaccurate campaign against him.

“Everything I’ve done in my life has prepared me for this moment in time, to do what I can to protect the state I love,” said Brown, the former two-term governor and current attorney general, standing in front of a vat of sulfuric acid after touring New Leaf Biofuel in San Diego.

“I’m confident at the end of the day, though it’s going to be a close race, people are going to vote for change, they’re going to vote for integrity, and they’re going to reject the negativity and the carpet-bombing of deceptive commercials we’ve been facing these last two months.”

More than 100 miles north, at a rivet manufacturer in the City of Industry, Whitman argued that the state would be ill-served if it elected a career politician who “has not delivered” in the past. Faced with a query from a worker about whether she could be any more effective than another political novice, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Whitman said the business skills she developed as EBay’s chief executive would ease her path in Sacramento.

Schwarzenegger “did a number of good things … but he had not run and managed and led large organizations” as she has, Whitman told an audience gathered on the factory floor of Allfast Fastening Systems. The next governor, she said, “has to be very tough-minded.”

“We cannot afford a third term of Jerry Brown,” Whitman said. “And I am going to give Jerry Brown the toughest fight he has had in his 40-year political career.”

The events marked a rare moment in the general election campaign so far — one in which the two gubernatorial candidates were actually campaigning at the same time.

Although Whitman has kept a brisk pace traveling around the state, airing ads and reaching out to voters since she won the GOP primary in June, Brown, who lacks his rival’s deep pockets, has spent much of his time raising money while juggling his duties as the state’s attorney general.

Organized labor has propped up his campaign with television ads over the summer, but until Wednesday it had been nearly a month since the candidate held a campaign event. Brown has said he was biding his time and would spend $25 million to $30 million in the fall, when voters would be paying attention.

“There are two things that are unprecedented in American political history,” he said Thursday. “One, the $100 million plus that Whitman has paid on her campaign, most of it from her own pocketbook, and two, the virtually no effect it’s had. This is basically a tie race.”

Brown, who picked up the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America on Thursday, appeared to be gearing up for the start of the general election battle. He headlined a rally in front of 800 people in Santa Rosa on Wednesday night, followed by the Thursday morning tour and news conference.

Those events offered Brown the chance to respond to several attacks Whitman has launched against him in recent weeks, including questions about his recent use of a state plane after he bragged about eliminating such luxuries during his prior time as governor. Brown dismissed a query as a “Whitman-fed” question.

“I fly it so little, really, compared to commercial flights,” he told reporters in Santa Rosa. “By the way, sometimes funerals are very important to go to, for fallen officers.”

Whitman’s newest television ad, unveiled Thursday, charged Brown with hypocrisy for touting his frugality even though he used a state plane 10 times since he assumed the attorney general post in 2007. The ad says that Brown used a Beechcraft King Air turboprop for trips to a conference at the La Costa Resort and Spa and a reception in Pebble Beach. “It’s your money — not his,” the announcer says.

Whitman, who received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business on Thursday, was fending off her own attacks from the state’s nurses’ union and the Courage Campaign, which used the anniversary of women’s suffrage vote to protest the candidate and her spotty voting record at a Sacramento rally.

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