Brown’s curious timing for announcement of Clinton events, a full month away

You don’t see gubernatorial campaigns typically announcing events a full month ahead of time, but in the case of Jerry Brown, there apparently is some urgency to make known a series of events he and Gavin Newsom, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, will be having with former president Bill Clinton.

So, we know, well in advance, that Clinton will be joining Brown and Newsom in Northern and Southern California on Oct. 15 and 17 for events to be more fully teased out later.

It’s a curious grouping, given Clinton’s endorsement last year of Newsom (over Brown) when he was still in the hunt for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Perhaps it was a condition of Clinton’s that he include Newsom, whom he has long seen as an up and comer, though the San Francisco mayor is running for one of the least consequential statewide offices in California.

Undoubtedly, the incessant repetition of Meg Whitman’s TV ad showing Clinton upbraiding Brown in a 1992 presidential debate (comments that Clinton has disavowed) is creating a level of anxiety within the Brown campaign.

But with the events a full month away, and with Whitman’s controversial Clinton ad continuing unabated, the Brown campaign may be in need of assistance from Clinton sooner (an ad with Clinton looking straight into the camera giving his full-throated, twangy endorsement of Brown).

Clinton has already endorsed Brown (after Brown apologized for joking not so subtly about the Monica Lewinsky saga), but the impact of a written statement by the former president carries little of the potency of a TV ad that is showing throughout the state at what seems to be an unprecedented rate of play — and has a still-popular former president practically making Whitman’s case for her.

Though critics and political observers have made the case that the ad is based on faulty information (which Clinton has acknowledged, but, again, only in a written statement), the Whitman campaign is apparently seeing in its internal polling that the ad is gaining traction. Chief strategist Mike Murphy tweeted yesterday that Whitman is pulling ahead of Brown, so he isn’t likely to bow to the fact-checkers at this point.

Though Clinton and Brown have downplayed their previous rivarly, the Whitman campaign keeps picking at that old scab, today releasing a video for the benefit of the political class (possibly a preview of more to come for the great unwashed masses):

So far, the ad battles have been on the turf chosen by Whitman. Soon, the Brown campaign may be pushing its own narrative. Next week, in the run-up to the Sept. 28 debate between Brown and Whitman, expect Brown to cut a new ad that will turn the focus on Whitman’s record. Think Goldman Sachs, shoving employees, plans to give tax breaks to the wealthy, etc.

Steven Harmon