Meg Whitman goes negative in new campaign ads

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman directly attacks her chief primary rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, in four new television spots released Friday. Whitman’s new message is that Poizner can’t be trusted. She has launched a new Web site, to accompany the new ads. The new ads mark a change in tactics for the Whitman campaign, which has spent its time thus far introducing Whitman to voters and not mentioning Poizner at all. A Poizner spokesman said the ads smack of desperation from the Whitman camp. ‘Meg Whitman has resorted to a negative ad campaign after her first ads proved nothing more than she didn’t know how long she lived in California and that people on her payroll support her,’ said Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen. ‘Meg Whitman is scared and knows the conservative candidate will win this race.’ In a statement Friday, Agen noted Whitman’s endorsement of Democrat Al Gore for president in 2000. Campaign records show Poizner also gave money to Gore, but he has said those donations were made by his wife.

[Updated at 12:37 p.m.: Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said Whitman ‘was a Bush donor and never gave a dime to Al Gore.’ Pompei said Whitman never endorsed Gore in 2000. Of course, she wouldn’t have voted for Gore either, since she was not registered to vote in 2000. Whitman’s first two television ads were positive, biographical spots talking about her vision for Califorina’s future and featuring testimonials from former co-workers about her leadership. She has also run radio ads taking on state spending and discussing the need for reductions in state welfare grants and the state workforce. Poizner has not yet aired any television or radio advertising.]

-- Anthony York in Sacramento