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Road to Recall: The Battle for California

Aired August 9, 2003 - 22:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, an exclusive interview with the man in the middle of the California recall.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We wanted to run for governor...


ANNOUNCER: The deadline has just passed. The papers signed.


ANNOUNCER: The fees, paid. Let the campaign begin.

From Arnold.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: And I promise you that I will be the people's governor, the people's governor.


ANNOUNCER: To Coleman.


GARY COLEMAN, FMR. CHILD ACTOR: I'm just somebody with good ideas.


ANNOUNCER: From Huffington.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: ...that I'm running for governor of the great state of California.




LARRY FLYNT, "HUSTLER" MAGAZINE: California wouldn't mind having a smut peddler who cares as governor.


ANNOUNCER: The politicians.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm providing a new opportunity and a new option.


ANNOUNCER: The voters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean all these people, I don't see where they're qualified.


ANNOUNCER: The late night talk shows.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LETTERMAN SHOW": Arnold is the first bodybuilder to run for governor since Janet Reno.


ANNOUNCER: Who's in? Who's out? And what's really at stake?


DAVIS: Leadership is more than just snappy one liners.



From Los Angeles, Kelly Wallace.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

You are looking at a live picture of the statehouse in Sacramento, California, where tonight, the name on the governor's desk says Gray Davis, but for how long? Can he survive an October recall election?

More than 100 candidates have turned in the required paperwork and want his job. Tonight, we'll look ahead at the next 60 days to see how each candidates plans to break away from the pack and win or just stay in office.

Also, the ultimate political punchline. We get down and dirty with comedian talk show host Bill Maher about what you'll see in this election and what you won't see.

And under the media spotlight, will this campaign get serious or stay a spectacle? We have all this and lots more in the next hour.

But first, let's go to Kelli Arena at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a check of the headlines making news tonight and tomorrow -- Kelli.


WALLACE: Well, brace yourself. In 60 days, on October 7, California will be hit by a political earthquake. It could be a big one. And shockwaves could be felt in every corner of the country.

Voters in the Golden State will get the unprecedented opportunity to boot the elected governor from office and install someone else.

We begin with CNN national correspondent Bob Franken, who witnessed the movers and shakers racing to meet today's deadline. Bob, what was it like out there today?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kelly, you know, there's quite an element of show business and politics all the time, but what I thought we witnessed today was the theater of the absurd.


FRANKEN (voice-over): All this, as they say in California, was for the Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the L.A. County Registrar's office to officially become a part of the recall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am running for governor.

FRANKEN: There are dozens upon dozens of other candidates, serious and decidedly bizarre.

Schwarzenegger is the movie star who draws the crowds and media frenzy, as well as another candidate, Arianna Huffington, who just happened to be here when all the cameras were, and too close to where the microphones were.

With audio quickly restored, the Republican Schwarzenegger promised to be the "people's governor." It was hardly a surprise that his wife endorsed him, but this wife is TV correspondent on leave Maria Shriver of the Kennedy family Shrivers, important in this heavily Democratic state.

MARIA SHRIVER, NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And I think that he will represent Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, men and women, all across this state.

FRANKEN: But the candidate held firm to his resolve so far not to talk issues, no matter how hard reporters try.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Let me make the decisions how we roll out the campaign, OK? And I would talk to you about it.

FRANKEN: Republican candidate Bill Simon had his own cheering section, a much smaller one to be sure.

BILL SIMON (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Let the people decide who they want their next governor to be.

FRANKEN: But Gray Davis supporters argue the people did decide in the last election eight months ago, when Davis beat Simon.

DAVIS: Many people are trying to become the governor. I am the governor.

FRANKEN: One of Davis' problems has gone away. Under heavy party pressure, Democratic state insurance commissioner John Garamendi has decided not to run. That leaves lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante.


FRANKEN: And many Democrats are trying to decide whether they should, in fact, have -- hedge their bets a little bit, Kelly, by supporting Bustamante as well as opposing the recall -- Kelly?

WALLACE: Bob, you tried to get specifics from Arnold Schwarzenegger today. Any sense from his advisers when those specifics will come?

FRANKEN: Well, yes, I think the best way to answer it is when they feel like it, if they feel like it. There, of course, has been a few successful campaigns, like a certain presidential campaign, where there was a minimum of give and take on issues. And I think that they've modeled their campaign probably, or trying to after the George Bush presidential effort.

WALLACE: OK, thanks, Bob. We'll see you a bit later in the show.

Well, Governor Davis also faces credible challenges from other courters. Among them is former baseball commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, a moderate Republican running as an independent. Ueberroth has been deeply involved in the Los Angeles business community for decades, including heading up the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Now nothing quite like the California recall has ever happened before in modern American politics. And no one can predict how it will turn out. But a new CNN/"TIME" poll offers some intriguing possibilities for a snapshot so to speak.

For that, I'm joined by CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, first question, how much trouble is Governor Gray Davis in? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: He's in trouble, Kelly. And the poll shows exactly how much trouble he's in. 54 percent of the voters here in California say they are ready to fire him, to get him out there and replace him with somebody else.

Only 35 percent say they want to keep Gray Davis in office. Now 54 percent looks pretty bad, but you spoke to the governor and his people today. And they were spinning this and saying well, it was 51 percent of the people days ago -- a couple of weeks ago. Now it's 54. You know, they said, that's no dramatic change.

And with all the Arnold Schwarzenegger hype, it ought to be a lot worse. But he's in trouble.

WALLACE: They were feeling pretty good, I would say, about those numbers, but what about, Bill, the rest of the field? Arnold Schwarzenegger and the others?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is Arnold. Schwarzenegger does lead the crowded field of candidates seeking to replace Davis with 25 percent of the vote. Only one other candidate's in double digits. That's Cruz Bustamante, the Democratic lieutenant governor.

They're followed by two conservative Republicans, Tom McClintock and Bill Simon, Jr. Both have run for statewide office.

All the other candidates are below five percent. Three of them are independents. They're all tied at four percent. The former baseball commissioner and Olympics organizer, Pete Ueberroth. The columnist, Arianna Huffington and the self described smut peddler, Larry Flynt.

Now how embarrassing is it for Arianna Huffington and Peter Ueberroth to be tied with Larry Flynt?

WALLACE: He's not -- they're not going to like that very much at all. But final question, when it comes to Arnold Schwarzenegger, do Californians believe he has the capability, the experience, the qualifications to be governor of this state?

SCHNEIDER: Kelly, the verdict is still out on that. 45 percent said yes, they think he does have the capability to be governor. 39 percent say no, they really don't think he does.

Now all the other candidates and the press are going to go after Schwarzenegger on exactly this point. What are his views? What's he going to do to solve this state's very serious and critical problems? The poll shows that most voters are not -- a majority that is, are not yet willing to say he can handle the job.

WALLACE: OK, Bill Schneider, stick around. You have a starring role on tonight's show.

And tonight's last call question is live, what do you want to know about the California governor's race? Our political watchers will be answering your calls at the end of the show, including Bill Schneider. And you can call us at 1-800-807-2620.

Now Gray Davis has a reputation as a no holds-barred politician who fights to win. His strategy over the next two months is to convince more than half of the voters that the recall effort is flawed and unfair.

Just a short time, I had a chance to sit down with Governor Davis and his wife, Sharon, for an exclusive one on one interview.


G. DAVIS: Well, the campaign has just begun. And the people know me. They know I'm a fighter, not a quitter. I'm going to spend every day, Kelly, working as hard as I can to make life better for the people I represent. And I trust the California voters. They're fair minded. At the end of the day, I believe they'll make the right decision.

WALLACE: Let me ask you both a little bit about a man who's getting a lot of attention, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governor Davis, let me ask you, do you believe Arnold Schwarzenegger has the experience to be governor of California?

G. DAVIS: He clearly doesn't have very much experience in public life. And I can tell you that recycling old lines from movies only gets you so far. I believe leadership more than talk, it is action.

We have taken tough stands on education, which is improving, getting a million children with health insurance, and protecting the environment. That is leadership. That is action.

WALLACE: Let me ask you. You're known to run some tough campaigns before in the past. What about Arnold Schwarzenegger's private life, his personal life as an actor, or as a businessman, do you think that's relevant in this campaign?

G. DAVIS: Yes, I intend to run a fair and decent campaign. I believe that I have served the people well in difficult times. I know, Kelly, that when times are good, as they were two, three years ago, I was in the 60 percent range in approval rating, and people said the thing we like about this governor the most is the great economy.

Well, now the flip side is true. I probably didn't deserve all the credit initially. And I may not deserve all the blame now, but it comes with the territory. But even in this tough economy, we have a million children with health insurance who are making progress on public safety, on crime and education. And I'm just going to work every day to prove the people that I'm showing up, making their life better.

WALLACE: And I read into that, that personal life, personal conduct not an issue, you think, in this campaign?

G. DAVIS: Yes, I think that voters are entitled to take whatever they want into consideration. They make the decision. I trust them. I believe they're fair minded. At the end of the day, I think they'll do the right thing.

WALLACE: Mrs. Davis, you were nodding your head. Do you think the -- any personal life allegations should not be part of this upcoming campaign?

SHARON DAVIS, GRAY DAVIS' WIFE: Well, I don't think it will be on our side. Because this -- the way this unique campaign is structured, my husband isn't running against Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold Schwarzenegger is running against Larry Flynt and Arianna Huffington and all the other candidates that have aligned themselves on the other side of the ballot.

And so, I don't see where we're going to be engaged in that. Obviously, Arnold will be attacking my husband and attacking his record. This campaign, I'm sure, will mainly focus on responding to the inaccuracies that they might be putting out.

WALLACE: Let me quickly ask you about a very prominent Democrat who you are known to talk to frequently, former President Bill Clinton. Have you talked to him recently? Have you invited him and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, to come out here and campaign against this recall?

G. DAVIS: Well, I have great respect for President Clinton. I think every American would trade today's economy for the bullish economy we had during his eight years. And yes, I have sought his advice. I've been in contact with him on a fairly regular basis. I hope that he will find time to come out here. I've not formally invited him, but I do so now on your show.

WALLACE: Mr. President, if you're watching, you have an open invitation to California.

G. DAVIS: If you can come to California and help make the case that recall is really an insult to the eight million people who took the time to vote last November. You know, I'm old fashioned, Kelly. I believe once there's an election, people have spoken. Now is the time to get the public's work done. When the next election runs around, we can all fight one another.

WALLACE: Governor and Mrs. Davis. Governor, will you be the governor of California on October 8th?

G. DAVIS: I believe I will. And I believe I will because voters are fair minded, they make judgments, and they realize it makes very little sense to overturn the judgment of eight million who took the time to go to the polls last year. It makes no sense for them to have to reach in their pocket and spend $70 million for an election that was driven by a conservative candidate, Darrell Issa, who wanted to run for governor this fall so he didn't have to give up his congressional seat next March.

If we had the election next March, it would cost just a fraction of what this is going to cost. So I think they'll decide this is bad policy. Makes no sense to reverse the judgment of eight million people. And a recall breeds more recalls, constant campaigning. Voters don't want that. They want us focusing on their problems, not just campaigning endlessly.


WALLACE: Governor Davis and his wife Sharon speaking to us earlier this evening.

Now to the man who hopes to take over Governor Davis' job, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is quickly becoming considered a frontrunner in the election to replace Davis, but the actor has yet to address issues central to this election, instead, using his name and reputation to try to woo voter support.

CNN's John King explains.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He drives a gas guzzling SUV, but says it would wrong to jump to conclusions.

SCHWARZENEGGER: And I will fight for the environment, nothing to worry about that.

KING: That was Thursday afternoon, Friday morning, more of the same, vague on many of the issues that could shape the campaign. Known as a supporter of gay rights, he was asked about gay marriage.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't want to get into that right now, because as we go on the campaign, we will address all of those issues.

KING: And on money matters like the state's budget crisis?

SCHWARZENEGGER: The higher workman's compensation in California and also the disastrous energy crisis that we have. What do you think who is paying for that?

KING: Schwarzenegger says his campaigns for after school programs should leave no doubt about the spending priorities.

SCHWARZENEGGER: It is important to know that the children should have the first call to our state treasury. We have to take care of the kids.

KING: Supporters call him a moderate republican, who supports abortion rights and public schools, but he also is described as fiscal conservative, that may come with the territory and he's worth hundreds of millions. Schwarzenegger wants to kill the tripling of car taxes that made Governor Davis even more unpopular. But, no word, so far, anyway, whether he is for new tax cuts or increases. Also, Schwarzenegger's specifics on crime, drugs, agricultural, suburban sprawl, water rights. It is a big state. He is accustomed to having his name above the title and very much hoping Californians are more interested in confidence and leadership than policy details.

SCHWARZENEGGER: The people are very smart, they know who is sincere, who is honest, who has a strong character, and who can go out there and change things. They know that I could be the man.

KING: John King, CNN.


WALLACE: Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't the only big name in the crowded race for governor. Child star Gary Coleman has thrown his hat in the political ring. Coleman admits he doesn't have a formal campaign, but was asked to run to inject some fun into the recall.

Another well known and rather controversial candidate is "Hustler" magazine publisher Larry Flynt. He believes slot machines are the answer to remedy California's record budget deficit.

Also throwing her name in the running is 22-year old porn star Angeline Mary Carey. Her platform includes urging Californians to swap their guns for x-rated films.

Well, we'll take a closer look at some of these candidates just ahead.

But this election has become somewhat of a free for all. How did it get this far and what possible political and legal ramifications could follow?

CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider has a look.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): On November 5, nearly 3.5 million Californians voted to re-elect Democrat Gray Davis to a second term as governor. On July 23, California's Secretary of State certified that nearly 1.4 million Californians had signed petitions to recall Davis.

Now the voters will go back to the polls on October 7 to vote whether to keep Davis in office or fire him.

Californians will also pick someone to replace Davis on October 7 and serve the remaining three years of Davis' term. That's right, on the same ballot they used to vote on whether or not to keep him.

If a majority votes to recall Davis, then whoever gets the most votes to replace him becomes governor as soon as the election results are certified. There is no primary, there's no running. You don't need a majority to win, just more votes than anybody else.

All it took to get your name on the ballot was 65 signatures and $3500. With so many candidates on the ballot to replace Davis, it may not take many votes to win.

So it's possible that Davis could lose the recall with say 49 percent of the vote. And a new governor could be elected with a much smaller vote.

That doesn't sound fair. In fact, Davis' campaign strategy is to make the recall the issue, by depicting it as an unfair, undemocratic power grab by conservatives who can't win regular elections.

DAVIS: I am confident the voters of this state will not opt for a right wing agenda over a progressive agenda.

SCHNEIDER: But some serious contenders to replace Davis are not exactly right wingers, like Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat and former baseball commissioner Pete Ueberroth, an Independent.

And this guy, who says the campaign is not about ideology or party.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I know that the people of California want to have better leadership. They want to have great leadership.

SCHNEIDER: If this is a referendum on Davis' leadership, polls suggest, there's a good chance the governor could be terminated.


SCHNEIDER: And as of today's deadline, 109 candidates had filed to go on the ballot to replace Davis. Anybody out there want to organize a debate?

WALLACE: Could be interesting. But Bill, I need to make an important clarification.


WALLACE: The porn star's name is Mary Carey, not Angeline. So got to correct the record there.

Well, he's not politically correct or is he? Coming up, talk show host Bill Maher's take on the colorful crowd of candidates in the governor's race. What must Arnold Schwarzenegger do to terminate California Governor Gray Davis? We'll talk to the experts about political plans in the battle for California. And what questions do you have about the California governor's race? Call 1-800-807-2620. Our political watchers will be standing by to answer your questions at the bottom of the hour.



BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Tell me if any of these would appeal to you. I know how a bill becomes a law.

DAVIS: I give that about a four.

MAHER: Who really knows the long term effect of steroid abuse? I could have told you about the deficit, but I didn't want you to worry.

DAVIS: About a three.

MAHER: Recall this. How about that? All right now...


WALLACE: And that was funny man Bill Maher, who had an exclusive interview with Governor Gray Davis just days after Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on "The Tonight Show."

We had a chance to sit down with Maher to hear his thoughts on this rather unconventional campaign. I started by asking Maher if he thinks Davis can terminate the Terminator.


MAHER: First of all, we have to stop with the Arnold. I said this to the governor. I said this is not fair because people vote by slogans and catch phrases. And our Arnold Schwarzenegger has a bagful of them. Hasta la vista, I'm going to pump this, and then the -- and Gray Davis has none.

So I tried to give him a few. And he liked some of them. Recall this. He liked that one. He liked my dad isn't a Nazi. And I was going to suggest if we're going to have a tax cut, or if we're going to have raise taxes, why not vote for the guy you hate anyway? He didn't like that one.

WALLACE: He didn't like that one. So do you think he'll use some of these new catch phrases?

MAHER: Yes. No, I don't think he will. I think he's going to stick with the playbook that brought him here.

Look, I know you're a governor and a politician, so you can't really show emotion, but -- and I know that, you know, look, if anyone I think has that covered, we don't expect you to fly off the handle and do something exciting, but doesn't -- come in...

DAVIS: Is there a question? I'm waiting for the question.

MAHER: Very good.

WALLACE: You seem to want to see some more emotion, though, from the governor, some anger. Do you think he needs to show more of that to beat this whole recall effort?

MAHER: Well, somewhere along the line, it got somehow verboten in American politics to show anger. I mean, I remember that this was the level that John McCain in the 2000 campaign. He's angry. And I would always say yes, he spent five years in a box in Vietnam. I -- and we could use a little...

WALLACE: He has a reason to be angry.

MAHER: ...and there's lots to be angry about in America. We need a little more angry, instead of these soulless automatons, who are always mouthing the same memorized platitudes.

WALLACE: Why is it then? Why do you think people don't want to see angry politicians?

MAHER: Because it works. Because they scared by negative campaign ads. This whole country is run by negative campaign ads.

WALLACE: Many think it's going to get really negative and really ugly in California over the next 60 days.

MAHER: Oh, it is. And I would like to add one more adjective to that, entertaining. It's going to get really entertaining, because you know, the press protected Arnold when he was a movie star. He ain't a movie star now. He's a candidate.

WALLACE: What does it say about this whole recall campaign, when you have Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing on "The Tonight Show," and Governor Davis sort of responding in his first interview on your show? What does that say?

MAHER: I think it says that the level of debate in America is finally going up.

WALLACE: You're against the recall.

MAHER: Yes, very much.

WALLACE: The main reason is why?

MAHER: This is not what the founding fathers had in mind when they founded this republic. One of their greatest fears was putting too much power in the hands of the howling masses. They made this a republic on purpose, a representative democracy.

The idea that the people would be this close to the decision- making process, it doesn't work. You can't run a government that way. You can't have too many cooks in there, especially the kind of cooks who sign a petition coming out of the supermarket. That should not be how someone gets into office.

WALLACE: But how do you account, and you even talk to the governor about this, about how so many Californians are angry with the governor right now? And some polls say a majority of Californians would recall the governor?

MAHER: Well obviously people are always mad at whoever's in office when things go bad. But as I said in the editorial I wrote in the paper here, basically the economy turned. That's not mostly his fault. The dot-com bubble burst, not really a Gray Davis plot.

We fought two wars overseas. The airline industry, which is huge here, went south. And let's not forget how Dick Cheney and his friends in the Enron world kind of gamed the energy market here and cost the state a fortune. I don't think any of that you can lay at the doorstep of Gray Davis.

I could quibble and argue with Gray Davis about a lot of things, but the economy going south, I don't think that that is really his fault. And if you're going to start recalling politicians when the economy goes bad, I mean we could get a petition to recall George Bush and replace him with Bernie Mac.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, you're against the recall.


WALLACE: But it has to be good for comedians like yourself...


WALLACE: ...especially in the slow days of August.

MAHER: The recall, or as we call it the 2003 monologue assistance act.

WALLACE: It helps. And finally, any predictions? How is this all going to turn out on October 7?

MAHER: My girl, Arianna Huffington, is going to be the next governor. And...

WALLACE: She is it? Woman, girl power, girl power?

MAHER: ...believe me, when they say who's going to clean up Sacramento, she's the girl to do it.


WALLACE: Comedian Bill Maher. And you can catch his show Friday nights at 11:00 p.m. on HBO.

California's total recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger knows the movie business, but is he tough enough for a political career? More on what could be the action film star's biggest fight yet. Coming up in our political roundtable. And our political watchers are standing by to answer your questions about the California governor's race. Call 1- 800-807-2620.


WALLACE: Well, we turn now to the commander in chief. President Bush is spending the dog days of August at his Texas ranch. He saw fit to say a few words about the California recall between chopping down cedar trees, jogging in 100 plus degree heat, and conferring with his senior advisers.

It wasn't exactly an endorsement of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was pretty close.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never arm wrestle Arnold Schwarzenegger. No matter how hard I try, I'll never lift as much weight as he does.

I think it's interesting. It's -- you know, I'm a follower of American politics. I find it the -- what's going on in the state of California very interesting. And I'm confident the citizens of California will sort all this out for the good of the citizenry.


You know, as I say, I'm interested in the process. It's fascinating to see who's in and who's out. And yes, I think he'd be a good governor.


WALLACE: Well, California voters certainly have a lot to consider over the next two months. And the dynamics of the recall campaign could shift dramatically.

Let's get into that with tonight's panel, Terry Samuel of "U.S. News and World Report," Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times," and of course, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Gentlemen, thank you all for joining us on this Saturday evening.

Terry, let me begin with you. What does Governor Davis have to do to defeat this recall effort?

TERENCE SAMUEL, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Well, he needs to, for one thing, keep this as entertaining as possible. I think the longer people think this is funny, at some point, the Californians are going to understand that this is tragedy masquerading as farce, because they know that there's a $38 billion deficit. They know what the problems are. And a group of people that -- where we can game up the movie, the book, the series at some point people -- may get serious about this. And this may be his best hope.

WALLACE: Ron Brownstein to you. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a lot of reporters, including our own Bob Franken, trying to get specific from the first time candidate. When does he need to provide some specifics? And another question, do voters really care?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, he'll need to provide them when the polls tell them that he's sort of hitting the wall. You know, this race, Kelly, is enormously unformed. If you look at your poll that was released tonight, the CNN/"TIME" poll, the four Republicans in the race, Schwarzenegger, McClintock, Ueberroth and Simon, the four big Republicans, are winning more support among Democrats than Cruz Bustamante is.

Arianna Huffington, who's running as a left wing populist is winning more support from Republicans and Democrats. What that says to me is that there really is almost no attachment to any of these candidates yet, no real association of them with any issues or positions.

What we're seeing is name identification. That is Schwarzenegger's big advantage. In a short race in a state where it's very expensive to get known, if the recall succeeds, he has the advantage of name ID. People know who he is. It's a recognizable name on the ballot, but if the Democrats can begin to identify him as a Republican and begin to identify Cruz Bustamante as the one real Democratic choice on the ballot, it could begin to look a little different.

WALLACE: Bill Schneider to you. You know, Maria Shriver was there with her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger. She is a Kennedy. How important was it today to have her standing there with her husband?

SCHNEIDER: I think that was a crucial strategy employed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He brought his wife there. She said my husband is appealing to Democrats, to Republicans, to Independents.

And you know, in our poll, he does better with Independents than he does among his own Republicans. And he comes in second among Democrats.

So he's really trying to say I'm not a hardcore right wing Republican. I'm not a conservative. I want to appeal to everyone. He says that over and over again.

She also said he's a man of capability, of -- he -- that he's smart. She's a Kennedy. And Kennedys are associated with politics for a long time in this country. And I think she gives him a lot of legitimacy.

WALLACE: Terry Samuel to you. How important is turnout here? And will it come down to who is going to get more of his or her voters to the polls on October 7?

SAMUEL: Yes, it comes down to who is the most excited about this, or the must frustrated and angry. And if Davis' supporters suddenly see this as a huge conspiracy to do something that they think is unfair, that may help him.

Moderate Republicans suddenly see in Arnold Schwarzenegger somebody who they have not been able to get on a ballot for a while, a moderate Republican that California voters can get behind.

And if they get excited, and they have been, they could turn this in his favor.

WALLACE: Ron, how worried are Democrats about this, especially when we look at the presidential campaign just months away?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think they're very worried about this. I mean, there was a great division in the Democratic party. As you know, the national party leadership, the DNC, tried and -- certainly Gray Davis' campaign -- tried to keep any Democrat off of the ballot. The Congressional delegation had another view. They felt Davis was very vulnerable. They wanted there to be an alternative.

For a while, it looked like they would end up with the worst of all worlds, with two legitimate Democrats, John Garamendi and Cruz Bustamante on the ballot. Garamendi has dropped out.

But look, they've got a lot of work to do. And Gray Davis talked about having Bill Clinton to come out in your interview with him, Kelly, making a little news there earlier tonight. In this poll that you released tonight, only 51 percent of Democrats said they opposed the recall. So he's got a lot of work to do in consolidating his own party. He's got a very low approval rating. He's been someone who really hasn't governed in a way to sort of excite Democrats. He's tried to be somewhat more of a centrist figure.

Now, like Bill Clinton during impeachment, he really has to rely on the party base to come out and save him. Kind of an ironic situation for a centrist like Davis.

WALLACE: Bill to you, Peter Ueberroth, could he be the surprise man here? He thinks that Governor Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be duking it out and he'll be the man of substance, he says, off to the side that will attack attention.

SCHNEIDER: Kelly, I'll tell you something. I've spoken to a lot of people. I live part-time here in Los Angeles. And the establishment of Los Angeles, the big business leaders, the people who are the movers and shakers, if they had to appoint the next governor, they'd appoint Peter Ueberroth.

They say thank God, finally a candidate who can run the state. The problem is among the voters out there, they don't know who he is. He did organize the Olympics, but that was almost 20 years ago. He was baseball commissioner. You know, most of the people in California don't have any idea what he did or who he is.

So he's got to spend a lot of money to just get his name known.

WALLACE: Quickly wrapping it around the table, Terry, to you first, predictions? Who's going to win on October 7?

SAMUEL: I would say having watched Gray Davis over his career, it's -- and having watching the craziness over the last two days, it may be too early to bet against him.

WALLACE: Quickly, Ron, your prediction?

BROWNSTEIN: Oh, I can't predict this. This is too wild. Tell me who votes and I'll tell you who wins.

WALLACE: All right. Bill Schneider, last word?

SCHNEIDER: I think -- I agree with Ron, completely depends on turnout. And that's totally unpredictable.

WALLACE: OK, thanks so much, Bill Schneider, Ron Brownstein, Terry Samuel. We'll be talking to you definitely in the weeks ahead.

Well, he is a big name with little experience, but he could be California's most famous candidate for governor. Coming up, is Arnold Schwarzenegger changing the way a race for elective office is fought and covered?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": You know, it's amazing. Even Arnold's advisers said they were shocked by his decision to run. I mean, his people were backstage tonight. They had no idea. Nobody had any idea. He totally fooled them. They said they had no idea he was running, huh? Who knew Arnold was that good an actor? You could have fooled me. If he had done that in the movies, he'd have an Academy Award right now.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less than 24 hours to go in the free for all that the California recall election has become. More names have been added to the list of potential candidates...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, we are getting a clearer picture of who is hoping to become California's next governor. The hopefuls are laying their cards on the table. One by one, we're learning more about each candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the talk of the entire country right now. California's recall election is causing a stir throughout the country and around the world. And all that buzz is expected to drive even more people to the polls.


WALLACE: As you can see, California's recall election is generating all sorts of media buzz, especially since Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the foray.

Has any other race garnered this much attention? Joining us from Los Angeles with his insight is Martin Kaplan. He's the associate dean at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California.

Martin Kaplan, thanks for joining us tonight.


WALLACE: Well, first question, with all this media attention, what impacts does this have on the race?

KAPLAN: Well, the first big change is that the race is being covered at all. In 1998 when Gray Davis ran for governor against attorney general Dan Lungren in the state of California, the average amount of time that a half hour of news would give the gubernatorial race was eight seconds.

I think we've had in the last couple of days more coverage of this race than we had in the entirety of the 1998 gubernatorial race.

WALLACE: But let's look at the coverage. A lot of entertainment reporters are following this race because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And of course you have political reporters following the race as well.

Will it get serious or is it likely to continue to be entertainment during the slow days of August?

KAPLAN: Well, you know, we have a circus. And the food that's most popular at the circus is cotton candy. And so far, that's what we've been served. The political press is trying to get through the barrier between them and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to ask serious questions. But so far, he's been very successful, quite adroit, and elegant and charming in deflecting all those questions.

He's even fiddled with his ear piece if he didn't like what he's being asked. The great question is how long can that last? How long can he keep away from reporters who cover politics as their beat and only have to answer questions from people who are used to standing at the red carpet, and asking what are you wearing?

WALLACE: And also, the question becomes when it gets down, and if gets down to issues such as dealing with the budget deficit, water policy, education, will there still be this much attention on the race?

KAPLAN: Well, I think there will be. I think the limelight will stay right on the race clear through to the end. The question is whether Arnold or any other candidate will get a pass for just mouthing dialogue from old movies or saying things like I'm going to clean house.

The problem is that with a $38 billion deficit, there's plenty of ways on the table to solve it. Either you raise taxes or you cut spending or you borrow or you have accounting gimmicks. And the Republican legislature and the governor have been having that fight for the past several months.

It's a perfectly legitimate question to ask Arnold and all the other candidates, what side are you on? Do you want to start kindergarten a year later? Do you want to give rid of the new auto tax? And if so, what would you do instead? And the answer to that can't relentlessly be I have leadership, I'm going to clean house.

WALLACE: Well, looking in the past at other entertainers who entered the political arena, including Jesse Ventura, the wrestler who then ran and became the governor of Minnesota, ultimately looking at the coverage of that race, did it get into issues or did that candidate then get a pass as well?

KAPLAN: That race was about an insurgency more than it was about anything else. The idea that there was this outsider who suddenly could catch fire, even if his background was unconventional.

And I think the beginning of this race is very much about that. And right now, we have several candidates, Arianna Huffington and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, vying to be thought of as the insurgent.

It's entirely possible that we'll get to the finish line. And the coverage will only be about politics, only be about who's ahead and who's behind and who's gone negative and how they responded to the negatives. That's plenty of interest. That's like going to the horse races. That is possible, but it would be unfortunate if Californians had to choose in the end based on the highest entertainment value, rather than who's plan for the future of the state is best.

WALLACE: Martin Kaplan, thanks for joining us. We will be watching the coverage and we will see if the focus turns to the issues. Thanks again for joining us.

KAPLAN: Thank you, Kelly.

WALLACE: Well, calling all candidates, the California governor's race has plenty of them, ranging from a child sitcom star, who says he's joining the race for fun, to a billboard queen who says she can revive the economy.

We'll take a closer look at these colorful candidates.


WALLACE: The recall process short circuited the normal election process, making it possible for almost anyone to get on the ballot. Some of those candidates already have what many politicians crave, name recognition.

Most of the world already knows Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whether these wanna-bes can do the job is another story. But most will say they can't do any worse than the current governor.

As you'll see in this report from CNN's Thelma Gutierrez, what some of these candidates lack in experience, they make up in chutzpah.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California voters wanted it, they got it. Now the floodgates are open.

ANGELINE: I'm Angeline and I'm running for governor. And you should vote for me because I love California. And if you love California, you'll vote for me.

GUTIERREZ: A billboard queen.

JACK GRISHAM, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Hi, my name is Jack Grisham. And I'm running for the office of governor of California. And you should vote for me because I want to reform health care.

GUTIERREZ: The front man for a punk rock group.

ED BEYER, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Hi, my name is Ed Beyer and I'm a candidate for governor of the state of California. I want to bring jobs, jobs, and jobs to the state.

GUTIERREZ: A private eye and a controversial pornographer. LARRY FLYNT, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: My name is Larry Flynt and I'm running for governor of California. And people should vote for me because I can balance the budget.

GUTIERREZ: They're not exactly career politicians.

GARY COLEMAN, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: They wanted me to run just for fun, just to bring a little levity to the situation.

ANGELINE: My slogan is TRP, think rational pink. Ah. And a hug for everybody. Oh.

GUTIERREZ: They're not ashamed of it.

GRISHAM: Ran last night, yes, yes.

GUTIERREZ: Is that why the glasses?

GRISHAM: Yes, I still have mascara all over my eye. I mean, it's bad. Some of it's washed off.

BEYER: Ed Beyer running for governor. How are you? Oh, hi, how you doing?

GUTIERREZ: All it takes is $3,500 and 65 signatures to get on the ballot.

ANGELINE: Would you like to sign my petition?


ANGELINE: I'm running for governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're running for governor?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I need to know a little bit more. I doubt it.

GUTIERREZ: It also takes thick skin.

ANGELINE: I'll talk to you later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this a large publicity stunt for your (unintelligible)?

FLYNT: I don't need any publicity. I'm better known than Coca- Cola.

GUTIERREZ: As publisher of "Hustler" magazine and a casino owner, Larry Flynt, a Democrat, says he would balance the budget by adding slot machines to casinos, then taxing them to the tune of $3 billion a year.

FLYNT: I really think I can do a better job of balancing the budget than those pinhead bureaucrats in Sacramento.

GUTIERREZ: Private eye Ed Beyer, a Republican, would focus on bringing business back to California.

BEYER: Balance the budget in the state, bridge the deficit, bring jobs back, run it like a business.

GUTIERREZ: Punk rocker Independent Jack Grisham would make health care more affordable for the working poor.

GRISHAM: When was the last time our elected officials had to worry about not being able to afford insurance?

GUTIERREZ: Child actor Gary Coleman would come up with a new tax plan.

COLEMAN: I believe in a flat tax for the state of California, a very low flat tax.

GUTIERREZ: And Angeline, a pink party candidate, says she'd focus on the deficit.

ANGELINE, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Get the taxes and you pay the bills. And you're done.

FLYNT: She should just stick to her billboards.

GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


WALLACE: Well, we asked you what you wanted to know about the California governor's race. Our Bob Franken and Bill Schneider will answer you right after this break.


WALLACE: And this just in from our colleague, Bob Franken. There are now 129 names on this recall replacement ballot.

Well, this whole recall election is generating a lot of interest all over the country. Many of you have called in for tonight's last call to ask about it.

Joining us now, Bob Franken and Bill Schneider to take your questions. So let's go to our first caller with a question about Governor Davis. We go to Irene from Sacramento, California.

Good evening, Irene. We lost Irene, but let me direct this to you, Bill. I think Irene was going to ask you is it possible that Governor Davis might resign?

SCHNEIDER: It's possible, of course. It's always possible. He could resign. He could see the writing on the wall, but it doesn't look very likely. If he were to resign right now, this may be a surprise, you know what would happen? They'd still have a recall election. Is that amazing or what?

The Secretary of State informs us that the recall would go right ahead. The lieutenant governor would become acting governor between now and October 7. The recall votes would be counted, even though they're recalling somebody who's already resigned. But they wouldn't matter.

The only thing that would happen on October 7 is that the next governor to fill the remaining three years of Gray Davis' term would be selected. But the recall would go right ahead.

WALLACE: All right. Now to what will be our first caller, Douglas in New York. Good evening, Douglas.

OK, we're having some problems with those calls. Bob, to you, give us a sense of behind the scenes, what it was like down there on the street, outside in Norwalk, California, watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington in this sort of photo op that will really be written about for weeks and weeks.

FRANKEN: Well, it was one of those situations today where one of the most dangerous places in America was between Arianna Huffington and a camera. She just coincidentally came here today when Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be getting all his coverage and was in the shots. There was that minor incident where she knocked over all our microphones.

But to be honest with you, that was one of the more sedate moments of the day. This has been quite the bizarre little place today.

By the way, the 129 names we mentioned earlier are part of an unofficial count. A few of those may be knocked off because the signatures aren't valid, but we're going to certainly have quite a few people in this race. If their relatives only vote, then we're going to have a big turnout here.

WALLACE: OK, let's see if the phones are working now, Bob.

John in California, good evening, John.

CALLER: Hello?

WALLACE: No, we're having all kinds of technical problems, Bill.

CALLER: Hello?

WALLACE: John, go ahead. Good evening, John?

CALLER: Hello?

WALLACE: No, Bill. Let me ask you this.

CALLER: I'm not being picked up.

WALLACE: Explain to our viewers exactly how this whole recall is going to work. We've talked about it all hour, but it's important to note there will be two questions on this ballot.


WALLACE: On October 7?

SCHNEIDER: That's right, the voters will vote twice. The first vote is do you want to keep Gray Davis or fire him? Yes or no. End of story. The second question is who do you want to replace him, if he's recalled? It could be a total waste of time, because if he wins, that is if a majority vote to keep him, then it doesn't matter who they vote for on the second ballot.

So the second ballot will only matter if a majority vote to recall to the governor.

WALLACE: Bob, any of your sources saying that there might be any debates down the road with all of these candidates?

FRANKEN: Well, I tell you what. So far, Arnold Schwarzenegger has avoided discussing issues at all. Mr. Simon, William Simon, has called for debates, a large number of debates.

The -- of course, the big problem would be who would be in the debate? As I said, if there are over 125 candidates, would each of them have to be given a position? That's a very practical problem they'll have to try and sort out.

WALLACE: Bill, we're having problems with the phones, but not with e-mails. We know you've been getting a ton of e-mails lately. What are some people saying in these e-mails to you?

SCHNEIDER: Well, one e-mail I got asked a very simple question. They said isn't it possible that 49 percent could vote to keep Gray Davis, and he then would lose because 51 percent would vote against him? But he got 49 percent of the vote.

And then on the second ballot, Arnold Schwarzenegger or somebody else could win the vote to replace him with like 12 percent of the vote. 129 candidates, it can be done. Would that be fair? Would that be democratic? That's a very interesting question because that's exactly what could happen in this election.

WALLACE: Bob, quickly, Mike in Texas called in with this question. Is this whole thing really diminishing the political process here in California?

FRANKEN: Well of course, people would ask how can you possibly diminish the political process? So that would be the answer to that.

One quick thing, we're now told that the unofficial count again, 106 appear to have qualified. And they're 22 others they're still checking.

So it looks like there will be well over 100 people on the other selection ballot, in case Governor Davis goes down. WALLACE: OK, Bob Franken watching this minute by minute out there. And Bill Schneider, thanks to you. And thanks for sticking with us through some technical problems.

One thing is for sure. The next 60 days will be very, very interesting. We will be watching. We hope you'll be watching the road to recall, the battle for California, too.

On behalf of everyone behind the scenes here in Los Angeles and in Atlanta and Bill Schneider and Bob Franken, I'm Kelly Wallace in Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


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