At today's Women's Conference down in Long Beach, Matt Lauer asked Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to take down their negative ads. Why? Because negative ads are mean, and they make the Statue of Liberty cry.

Lauer's suggestion got a warm round of applause, but a cool response from the candidates, because no matter what the voters say, negative ads work.

With his arm twisted behind his back, Brown agreed to take down his negative ads if Whitman would drop hers. Whitman said she'd take down her negative ads, but not the ones where she shows where Brown stands on the issues.

Like this ad, dubbed “Job Killer,” in which Whitman shows where Jerry Brown stands on the issue of killing jobs. (He's in favor.) This started airing just as Whitman was making her no negative-ads pledge:

Don't look so shocked. If you think Whitman spent

$140 million just to throw it all away to appease Matt Lauer's high-minded principles, then think again.

And Brown is no saint either. Though his most effective negative ad (“Echo”) simply juxtaposed clips of Whitman repeating Arnold Schwarzenegger's rhetoric, he is no stranger to the creepy music and unflattering photos that are the hallmarks of the genre:

Now that she's trailing in the race, Whitman needs negative ads more than ever. Any sort of “pledge” would be the equivalent of a Whitman surrender. And if she surrenders to Matt Lauer, how is she going to handle John Perez and Darrell Steinberg? So forget it.

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