Brown, Whitman Clash Over His Aide Calling Her a ‘Whore’

California governor candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman clashed over an aide’s description of her as a “whore,” with Brown terming it an “unfortunate” part of a private conversation and Whitman calling it a “personal attack.”

It was the first public apology by Brown, the state’s Democratic attorney general, to Whitman, a Republican and former chief executive officer of EBay Inc., since a recording of the comment was made public last week, and came as the two held their final debate ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

“Miss Whitman, I’m sorry it happened,” Brown said. “That does not represent anything other than things that happen in a campaign.”

Whitman, 54, and Brown, 72, are vying to lead the state with the most people, biggest economy and worst credit rating in the U.S. The victor will inherit a state climbing out of a $19.1 billion budget deficit, with a 12.4 percent unemployment rate as of August.

Brown, California’s governor for two terms, from 1975 to 1983, was inadvertently recorded after leaving a voicemail message for a Los Angeles police union official. In a conversation about a potential campaign ad over pension issues, an unidentified aide called Whitman a “whore.”

‘I Was Stunned’

“I was stunned by Governor Brown’s insensitivity to what that word means to women,” Whitman said at a news conference following the debate at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, a suburb of San Francisco. “All Californians, and especially women, know exactly what’s going on here.”

Brown told reporters after the debate he didn’t think he would lose votes from women as a result.

Brown led Whitman among likely women voters in an Oct. 3 poll, 47 percent to 37 percent, according to the latest survey by Rasmussen Reports. Brown also led Whitman among all likely voters, 46 percent to 40 percent, the poll found.

During the debate, Whitman said Brown would bring more of “the same old, same old” politics and underscored her experience as CEO of a Silicon Valley company, while Brown said his government experience prepares him to dive into the job.

“I’ve been in the kitchen, I’ve taken the heat,” Brown said. “She’s been in the bleachers, looking from the Internet company at what’s happening in government.”

Brown spent $10.7 million on his campaign from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 and had a fund balance of $22.6 million, according to the California secretary of state’s office. Whitman spent $120.6 million in that period, with $9.2 million remaining.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alison Vekshin in San Rafael, California, at avekshin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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