Whitman offended by comments in Calif. gov’s race

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman on Thursday criticized remarks attributed to rival Jerry Brown that made a comparison between her campaign and a Nazi propagandist.

The comments attributed to Brown were posted Wednesday in a blog by a reporter for KCBS radio in San Francisco. In his blog, which was on the station’s website, reporter Doug Sovern says he was riding his bike in the Oakland hills when he bumped into the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, who was jogging.

KCBS radio editor Debra Ingerson told The Associated Press on Thursday that the conversation was not recorded.

Sovern said Brown was concerned about Whitman’s ability to spend an almost unlimited amount of money in the governor’s race. Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, spent at least $81 million in the primary, all but $10 million of it from her personal fortune.

According to the blog, Brown said Whitman has the money to launch a pervasive smear campaign: “She’ll have people believing whatever she wants about me.”

Brown then compared that type of messaging ability to Nazi propagandist of Joseph Goebbels.

“Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world,” Brown is quoted as saying. Brown went on to say he believes Whitman wants to be the first female president.

The blog posting said the conversation took place before Tuesday’s primary, but didn’t specify when.

Whitman’s campaign issued an e-mail late Thursday criticizing the comments and providing a link to the blog post.

“Jerry Brown’s statements comparing our campaign to a propagator of the Holocaust is deeply offensive and entirely unacceptable,” campaign manager Jillian Hasner said.

Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said the reporter and candidate had a discussion after a chance meeting while they were exercising.

“I wouldn’t vouch for the accuracy of it, but I also don’t want to dispute the accuracy of it,” he told The Associated Press on Thursday. “It was jogging talk taken out of context.”

He said Brown was not comparing the Whitman campaign to Nazis.