Amid bickering, Whitman and Brown agree to two fall debates


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In politics, it’s all about the spin.
Take, for instance, a news release issued Tuesday by the Meg Whitman campaign that proclaims, “Meg Whitman Challenges Jerry Brown to Three Fall Debates.”

It was an interesting take given that Brown, the Democratic attorney general, issued the debate challenge to Whitman and her GOP primary rival, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, at the state Democratic convention in April. Brown kept up the pressure after the primary, challenging Whitman to a series of 10 debates. In June, she accepted an invitation to an October debate, as did Brown, who then asked to speed up the schedule.


On Tuesday, however, Whitman’s news release had her throwing down the gauntlet, accepting invitations to three televised debates in the fall, including the one she agreed to last month.
Brown’s campaign said he’s committed to two of the Whitman team’s three debates: Sept. 28 at UC Davis, and another the week of Oct. 11 at Dominican University in San Rafael. A third, Oct. 2 at California State University in Fresno, is not on the debate list that Brown issued last month, Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said.

“Meg is looking forward to debating Jerry Brown,” Jillian Hasner, Whitman’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Meg has laid out specific plans for getting Californians back to work, making government more efficient and fixing our schools. We’ve heard almost nothing from Brown. Hopefully, between today and these debates, Jerry Brown will tell us what he plans to do. Californians deserve a substantive debate on the plans and proposals each candidate will use to lead California out of crisis.”

Clifford recalled the campaign’s initial challenge and cited a list of 10 debates it sent out to the media last month.
“Perhaps from her New York perch, Meg has forgotten that Jerry Brown has accepted 10 debates,” said Clifford, referring to Whitman’s appearance on “Good Morning America.”

“While we’re just tickled that Meg has seen fit a month later to accept two of our 10 invitations, that leaves 80% of our debate challenges unmet.”

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento