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The Kickoff: Brown Proposes 10 Town Halls with Whitman

Facing a political ad war the likes of which California has yet to see, Jerry Brown today kicked off his campaign for governor by proposing 10 town hall debates with Meg Whitman.

There was no immediate response from his Republican rival, but at a press conference at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, Brown said that the “broad spectrum of California has a right to hear from these candidates” in a way that is “accessible in a real time, live setting.”

Brown will almost assuredly be greatly outspent in the race, and Whitman has her own funds to throw in the race and already proved that with the reported $71 million she already spent to win the primary.

A spokesman for Brown, Sterling Clifford, told reporters that they would not be on the air with ad spots “for a long time,” although Democrats can expect to benefit from the spending of independent expenditure groups.

While Whitman attacks him as a career politician, Brown has cast his experience as a benefit given the state’s budget crisis. He quoted Ronald Reagan and talked of an “agenda of humility” as he went to great lengths to show off his centrist credentials, pointing out during the press conference that he took on state employee unions during his prior tenure as governor and expressing a willingness to put the state’s pension system on the table in budget negotiations. And he even tried to turn a derisive nickname from the late 70s, “Governor Moonbeam,” for some of his off-the-wall proposals, into a positive.

“I have a record of going against the tide,” he said. “They didn’t call me Governor Moonbeam for nothing.”

Yet reporters still had to pry more specifics from Brown on such issues job growth, an issue that will be central to both campaigns. That may be even more of an issue in the weeks ahead, especially if his opponent bombards the airwaves again with simple-to-remember three-point plans.

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