KNBC/Channel 4 political reporter Conan Nolan is raising a very plausible notion: that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger--likely miffed over negative portrayals of the Governator by Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman--"sandbagged" both candidates.
And it all went down in Long Beach, where Shriver is suspected of having strong-armed the reluctant candidates into appearing onstage with her husband and Matt "Where in the World Am I? Oh, the LBC" Lauer at Shriver's The Women's Conference 2010.
Nolan's enlightening PropZero" post is here.
The set-up: Lauer, Whitman, Schwarzenegger and Brown, sitting left to right on a stage before 15,000 women, engaged in a mostly pleasant conversation that had California's gubernatorial hopefuls taking about their moms, how they started their careers and what they love about the Golden State.
But then, the NBC Today Show host tossed out the "gotcha":
"With six days left in the campaign," Lauer asked, "will you promise to stop the negativity?"
The hall erupted in thunderous applause. Ahnuld leaned back with that tickled, toothy grin of his. Lauer filled the respective candidate's invisible spit takes.
"Will you promise to pull your negative TV ads within the next 24 hours?"
Brown, as is his wont, tried to dodge with, "Negativity is in the eye of the beholder, there is a spectrum."
Whitman won over her fellow members of the fairer sex by talking of the hurt from personal attacks and name calling, which are unfair to California voters.
Pressing for commitments, Lauer first turned to Brown.
"Listen . . . I will take mine off, no question. If we do it together no problem, I will do that right now," Brown said.
Whitman agreed to take down any commercial that "remotely" called into question Brown's character but complained she should not have to remove ads "that talk about where Governor Brown stands on the issues."
Wily Brown then said he would agree on the spot to keep running an ad that has him looking in the camera and stating what he is for if Whitman did the same with a similar ad of hers he admires.
Whitman looked quesy. Arnold looked happy to have no dog in this fight. Jerry went in for the kill.
"I have a positive commercial where you are talking about how great California was 30 years ago . . . and guess who was governor then?"
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Thunderous applause, like Oprah had just given everyone in the audience new cars.
Nolan reports nearly half the reporters in the media tent applauded, too.
Here's the video: