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Newsom and Clinton Do LA

October 6, 2009

Bill Clinton made a West Coast swing this week to do events with Mayor Newsom yesterday and Lt. Gov. and Congressional candidate John Garamendi today. Clinton’s endorsement of Newsom probably represents the best news all year for the latter’s gubernatorial campaign but the three major papers (SFGate, SacBee, LA Times) all covered it at the national political theater level, even more removed than the campaign jockeying level, wondering whether Clinton’s endorsement was motivated by his bitter spat with Brown during the 1992 presidential campaign (although the Chronicle should be commended for not giving their headline over to sensationalism). All this focus on Clinton and Brown probably isn’t what the Newsom campaign wanted. The event was in fact focused on promoting green initiatives and lambasting Meg Whitman’s recent (and ridiculous) remark in favor of delaying the implementation of AB32

Bringing up 16-year-old grievances does make the event seem more exciting and, because the media has chosen as the CW meme, most will view the event through that lens. I would guess that Clinton is handing out payback, only to Newsom, not Brown. Newsom was a national co-chair for now-Secretary Clinton’s campaign last year – surprising, as Newsom’s public persona seems much closer aligned with Obama’s – so the Clinton’s owe him this support. Where the rubber meets the road, this should be most significant in terms of fundraising, where Newsom embarrassingly trails Brown despite the fact that Brown hasn’t declared. Clinton’s support should give donors and potential voters confidence in Newsom’s abilities. Even this endorsement won’t be enough to put Newsom ahead of Brown, however. He’ll still need to make some big moves to catch up.

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