A fired-up Jerry Brown held one of his biggest campaign rallies to date Wednesday night in Santa Rosa where he pledged to start working on the budget a week after Election Day if he's elected and hinted to reporters that former President and longtime nemesis Bill Clinton might lend his support.
The attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate spoke to about 800 people in an event organized by the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee at the Veterans Memorial Hall here.
His appearance also drew about 25 protesters holding the campaign signs of Republican rival Meg Whitman and homemade signs bashing Brown.
During the 25-minute-long speech, Brown repeated the central tenets of his campaign so far - a jobs plan tied to clean energy production, the need to work with all sides to issues such as pension reform and criticism of Whitman as an out-of-touch former CEO.
He also criticized legislators for not passing a state budget months after the constitutional deadline to do so had passed and said he wouldn't let that happen if he was governor.
Unlike Whitman's highly produced events, Brown's speech was a stripped-down affair. The only thing in the way of a campaign decoration was a "Jerry Brown Governor 2010" sign taped to the podium.
"I'm not going to wait by the way until August 25," Brown said, referring to legislators still deliberating the current budget. "They're still not sure. I'm going to start about a week after the election. ... With enough energy and strength, I would start some time in early November. I'm going to ask all 120 legislators to keep working until we get it done. That's never happened before. But it'll happen this time and we will get it done."
Brown won his biggest applause of the night by championing the contributions of immigrants to the state.
"The people who want to point the finger and blame the immigrants, that's who built this state," Brown said.
Brown mentioned that the old 800 number from his 1992 presidential campaign, 800-426-1112, was still working and directing calls to his Oakland campaign headquarters.
That number may not be the only thing recycled from the 1992 campaign.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Brown said he had been talking to Clinton, who famously clashed with him during the 1992 primary, but wouldn't specify whether the former president would be helping out.
"I talked to former President Clinton's people tonight," Brown said, adding later, "I'm just saying I've talked to him."
When asked whether his campaign was active enough, Brown called his statistical tie with Whitman, who's spent more than $100 million on her campaign so far, "the most phenomenal outcome in California politics."
"No one has ever spent this much money with so little response and so low favorability on the part of the electorate by any poll you wanna take," Brown said.
Brown defended his use of a state plane to travel to events attended by some campaign donors and rebutted criticism over his attendance of a fundraiser last week at the house of Jodie Evans, a longtime campaign supporter and co-founder of the leftist activist group Code Pink.
"All these people who worked on my campaign, they have nothing to do with Code Pink," Brown said. "That was a Jodie Evans and my former campaign workers over many decades, that came to her house. For Whitman to distort that, it's dishonest and it's within that same pattern of dishonesty that really is unacceptable."
Outside the event, Santa Rosa resident Orlean Koehle held up a sign reading, "No Recycled Governor Moonbeam" but said her support for Whitman was lukewarm.
"He does not support the laws the attorney general is supposed to support like Proposition 8," the voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Koehle said.
Koehle added, "She was totally in support of Van Jones," who was President Barack Obama's green jobs czar
Another Republican protester, Santa Rosa resident Don Jones, had similar thoughts about the two major party candidates, although he was holding up a Whitman campaign sign.
"I'm really anti-incumbent at this moment," Jones said. "I feel like (Whitman's) wishy-washy. I consider her to be something of a (Republican in Name Only), but Jerry Brown is as Democrat as they come."
PHOTO CREDIT: California Attorney General Jerry Brown brought his campaign for governor to the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Hall, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 in Santa Rosa. (AP Photo/ Crista Jeremiason/ The Press Democrat)