Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman declined to comment Sunday about a recording on which someone associated with rival Jerry Brown's campaign suggested characterizing her as a "whore" for allegedly limiting her pension plan's effect on public safety officers in order to garner their endorsements.
"It's a slur and I'm not going to dignify it with a response," Whitman said after speaking to hundreds of supporters at a Van Nuys rally with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The Times reported Thursday that Brown and his associates had been inadvertently recorded while discussing campaign strategy after the candidate failed to hang up a telephone after he left a message with a Los Angeles police union official. In the recording, which is muffled and in parts inaudible, Whitman was called a "whore" at least twice.
Aides to the Democratic nominee said he did not make the remark but said they could not identify who did. The campaign issued a brief apology Thursday night, but the candidate has not spoken about the matter. He canceled plans Saturday to visit a get-out-the-vote effort organized by his campaign.
Whitman's campaign aides have called the matter offensive to all women, but Whitman had refused to weigh in. Until news of the comment broke, Whitman had been under siege over the revelation that she employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper for nine years.
The candidate demurred when asked if she had ever heard anyone associated with her campaign make an inappropriate comment.
"I think voters want a campaign on the issues. They want to know what I'm going to do about jobs, what I'm going to do about education, how we're going to cut wasteful spending," she said. "I think the media needs to turn the attention back to the issues that are in front of every Californian between now and Nov. 2."
At the rally, Whitman repeated her three priorities — creating jobs, reducing government spending and fixing schools.
"I'm excited, we have 24 more days. And in 24 more days, we're going to have chance to elect the first job creator as governor of California. Also we have a chance to elect the first woman governor of California," Whitman said to cheers. "And I will be the governor who says no to wasteful spending. I will be the governor who says no to more taxes, and I'll be the governor who says yes to more jobs."
Giuliani held up his experience being elected mayor of a deeply Democratic city as proof that Whitman could win in blue-leaning California.
"This isn't about Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative," he said. "It's about having a chief executive who can make decisions and will run the state in a sensible way, like a business, where you spend what you can afford to spend, where you lower taxes, and that's how you attract business and that's how you grow jobs."
The two major candidates for U.S. Senate, meanwhile, continued to try to make inroads among voters not traditionally sympathetic to their parties.
Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer was brought to tears by a forceful defense of her record by Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who was highly decorated for valor in World War II.
Inouye, who joined Boxer in Pasadena for her endorsement by the political action committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, described Boxer as a senator who operated by exercising "heart." He said she had been instrumental in establishing a combat care facility in San Diego and cited her help in establishing a national historic site at Manzanar, the Eastern California camp to which Japanese Americans were forcibly moved during World War II.
At that, Inouye broke into tears and said "America needs Barbara," as Boxer herself grew emotional.
Boxer only briefly mentioned her differences with Republican Carly Fiorina, saying they were "huge."
"I want to go back [to Washington] to continue my fight for the people who need my voice," Boxer said. "Veterans are one. Seniors is another group. Workers, middle class."
Fiorina, meanwhile, told an audience of Iranian American Jews in Century City that her recent journey to Israel had been "intense" and "life-changing," and she called on the U.S. to take a more aggressive stance against Iran's president and the country's nuclear program.
"We must stand unequivocally and declare that Israel is our most important friend and ally in the Middle East and that we will stand with her always, no matter what," Fiorina told hundreds of people gathered for a conference.
"We must be clear … that we reject the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — that we will do what is necessary to prevent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from gaining a nuclear weapon, she said.
Fiorina did not explicitly say what actions the U.S. should take if, for example, Israel were to preemptively strike Iran.
Times staff writer Cathleen Decker contributed to this report.