For some reason only explicable by a secret tenet of the arcane art of political consulting, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger ended up sitting next to each other on a stage Tuesday, allowing themselves to be peppered with questions by NBC’s Matt Lauer.

(UPDATE 11:11 a.m.: John Myers has an entertaining report of the event up on Capital Notes. The post clears up something that I couldn’t make out on the video. After the crowd booed Whitman for hedging on the pledge to remove her negative ads, Arnold said, “Mike Murphy is in the back. He’s shvitzing!”, referring to Whitman’s’s campaign strategist.)

(Also: A video of the entire event is available.)

Consensus opinion is that this exchange–in which Lauer tries to get Brown and Whitman to pledge to removing all of their negative ads–made for the most awkward moments. Brown agreed to the deal without conditions (he is, after all, ahead in the polls), but Whitman wouldn’t bite, saying she’d only consent to axe the ads that were “personal attacks” and not those that “talk about where Governor Brown stands on the issues.” This did not meet with the audience’s approval.

The event took place at the The Women’s Conference in Long Beach and was hosted by Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver.

Here’s a video of Lauer bearing down on Whitman, found on the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert blog.

My favorite moment comes around 2:36 in the clip, when Lauer says “There’s been enough talk about slurs and housekeepers, we know you are both flawed people, everybody in this room is flawed,” and Brown mutters “We’re very flawed.” To which I imagined former Mr. Universe Schwarzenegger thinking, “Hey, speak for yourself.”

Video: Brown, Whitman Pushed by Lauer on Negative Ads 27 October,2010Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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