Brown, Whitman discuss scathing ad attacks

LONG BEACH, Calif. Before about 14,000 conference attendees, they were asked to pull their negative advertising in what has been a very contentious race for governor.

With the election just a week away, an exclusive Eyewitness News poll shows /*Brown*/ has maintained a consistent lead over his opponent, Whitman.

Both of them were on the same stage for the very first time with the man they want to replace.

Gov. /*Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ was first in the discussion with host Matt Lauer at the conference founded by the governor's wife, /*Maria Shriver*/.

One of the questions asked was, do men and women bring different perspectives to governing?

"Sometimes men can think really well and I think the key thing here is not so much is it a woman or a man, it's is the person willing to think?" Schwarzenegger said.

Lauer then asked who the candidates would call for advice during a midnight crisis other than their spouse.

"I can't keep my husband out of it, actually," /*Whitman*/ said. "We have been married 30 years, and this campaign has been tough, as you can imagine. My husband gets an 'A' for husband."

Said Brown: "I don't have to call in the middle of the night because my close confidant is with me in bed. During the day my wife, Anne."

An exclusive Eyewitness News poll by /*Survey USA*/ has Brown ahead 46 percent to 38 percent. Sixteen percent accounts for other candidates or undecided.

Brown has lost a point since last week and Whitman dropped two points.

Whitman's campaign has been the most expensive one in state history.

Would they both be willing to take their negative ads off the air?

"If she takes off her negative ads -- as reasonably defined -- I'll take mine off. No question," Brown said. "If we do it together, no problem. I pledge that right now."

"I will take down any ads that could even remotely be construed as a personal attack," Whitman said. "I don't think we can take down the ads about where Brown stands on the issues."

The crowd booed Whitman.

Whitman said there's a difference between discussing issues and character attacks.

"It's ok to have a discussion around the issues," Whitman said. "What I have found very challenging, and I'll be honest about it, is the personal attacks. The things that I have been called in this campaign, it's not fair to the voters of California. It isn't the right thing to do."

Brown more or less said he would pull his negative ads if Whitman pulled her negative ads, but neither one of them can agree on a definition of what is negative.

Brown has been running advertisements that shows his opponent repeating some of the same phrases that Schwarzenegger has used. Brown said Whitman brings more of the same "failed leadership."

Whitman is running as a political outsider just like Schwarzenegger did during the recall election in 2003.

The former /*eBay*/ chief executive told supporters in Westlake Village on Monday that she is not a career politician or a Hollywood star. Whitman said she ran companies while Schwarzenegger dabbled in investments.

Meantime, Schwarzenegger said both of them would make good governors if elected, but he won't endorse either one of them.

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