An aide to California Democratic candidate Jerry Brown was caught on tape suggesting that they call opponent Meg Whitman a whore over a perceived concession on police pensions. Unsurprisingly, this is turning into a problem.
Apparently, an accidental voicemail recording (heard in part in this video) was leaked. The Brown campaign is apologizing, calling it "a jumbled and often inaudible recording of a private conversation" during which "at times, our language was salty."
"Do we want to put an ad out? ... That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be ... that they'll go to Whitman, and that's where they'll go, because they know Whitman will give 'em, will cut them a deal, but I won't," Brown said.
Someone else said: "What about saying she's a whore?"
"Well, I'm going to use that," Brown replied. "It proves you've cut a secret deal to protect the pensions."
It's not exactly clear what "I'm going to use that" is referring to, but he's obviously not repudiating the term in private conversation. The Whitman campaign swooped in:
"The use of the term 'whore' is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California," her campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said. "This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman."
It is, to say the least, unacceptable to refer to a female politician as a whore. And yet this is obviously a bit of opportunism — Jerry Brown himself did not call her a whore, as far as the record shows, and it was never suggested in an official campaign context. Then again, it's not like Carly Fiorina's off-the-cuff hair comments about Barbara Boxer's hair got a pass either. But she was saying the worst words herself. And didn't apologize.