Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
President Bill Clinton weighed in on the California gubernatorial race Tuesday, endorsing Democrat Jerry Brown. A former Democratic president backing his party's standard bearer would be unremarkable, except for two facts: the men have had a rocky relationship since clashing in the 1992 presidential primary, and Brown — speaking off the cuff two days ago — called Clinton a liar and made fun of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Brown apologized Monday.
Clinton did not refer to the slight in his statement to The Times.
"I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland, he's been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence," Clinton said.
If you're not inclined to let the Brown-Clinton feud die, I suppose you could say that this is a pretty tepid endorsement. Clinton didn't show up in person, he didn't address the substance of Meg Whitman's ad that used his words and he didn't praise Brown's previous tenure as governor of California (the subject of the ad).
Still, after Brown's Lewinsky reference, this is as much as any Democrat probably could expect from the former president. For that matter, it's more than I expected. It's not as though Clinton is obliged to speak up for every Democratic candidate around the country.
That said, does this sort of endorsement really do Brown much in terms of blunting the impact of Whitman's ad?
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