SAN FRANCISCO - It is less than three weeks before Election Day, and Gov. Jerry Brown is finally out and about, reveling in his characteristically awkward, unscripted stride.
In one speech lasting less than 15 minutes, the Democratic governor described his desire to limit his hand gestures while speaking and to be an "all-purpose candidate," before taking a message he said came from outer space.
Brown, taking to the podium a sign for Proposition 30, his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise taxes, said, "I'm going to hold onto it, so that way I won't make as many gestures."
He said, "I don't know where I learned that, but I'm talking more and more with my hands."
A few minutes later, a television station's microphone fell from the podium. Brown bent to pick it up.
"All-purpose candidate," he said. "I can tell you one thing we don't like is losing the microphone, so that's something that we're going to take care of before we go any further."
Brown was speaking to members of the California Teachers Association about his measure to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.
As he neared the end of his address, a ghostly sound emanated from Brown's pocket, and Brown said, "Now, that is my cellphone."
He called for the audience to be quiet while he put the ringer to the microphone.
"This is a message from outer space, and I'm going to turn it on mute now so we don't have to worry about it," Brown said.
"That completely diverted my thought processes," Brown said. "But in any event, we're here to get the job done."