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Can Arnold Win Republican Support?; Catching Up With the Democratic Presidential Candidates

Aired August 11, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: California's new political star goes bicoastal.


ANNOUNCER: Everyone's still talking about Arnold. But do conservatives have anything good to say?

It's lottery time for Schwarzenegger and scores of other candidates for governor. Who will win the top spot on the ballot?

Remember these guys?

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was the guy on the floor with President Clinton trying to get the budget straightened out.

ANNOUNCER: We'll catch up with the presidential candidates, trying to be heard over the chaos in California.

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


JOHN KING, CNN GUEST HOST: Thank you for joining us. Judy is off this week.

More than a few people have likened the California recall race to a carnival. So a game of chance seems, perhaps, like a fitting edition to the spectacle. Within the past hour, California election officials held a lottery-style drawing to determine the order candidates names will appear on the very crowded October 7 ballot.

Meantime, the new leading man of the governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in New York Today to visit with young inner city athletes and to talk money with Republican powerbrokers.

Back in California, Governor Gray Davis is trying to conduct business as usual. That's part of his strategy as he fights to hold on to his job.

Our new poll shows 64 percent of California voters say they would vote to oust Davis. Amid the free-for-all, Republican Bill Simon says he'll run a campaign of ideas. The current and former rival for Davis' job has an appearance this hour in San Diego.

Now voters may have trouble finding their favorite candidate on the recall ballot, possibly packed with nearly 200 names.

Let's get an update now on the contest to get a prime spot on that ballot from CNN's Miguel Marquez in Sacramento.

Miguel, that looked like a bingo match inside there.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a little bit like a bingo match, you know. You can imagine your grandmother screaming "bingo" out during this thing.

But it's pretty serious stuff and the idea is is that presumably -- depends -- we won't really know until Wednesday how many candidates there are and how many different letters their last names begin with. Once we know that, then we'll know better how many candidates will have a shot at getting to the top of the ballot. Essentially, it's a randomized system. And for every district, the name changes, essentially. The name at the top ballot changes is the idea. They drew lots today here in Sacramento from a bingo-style basket that the secretary of state's office was spinning around. And they were able to draw out the names. We basically have a new alphabet to go by at this point.

The most interesting letters, I guess -- "S" is No. 11, "B" is No. 10, so "BS" -- I don't know what's that all about, John, but that's maybe just the way the gods decided it.

I can tell you one other thing that the secretary of state has said today is that the list of filers is now at 195, and it may hit 200 before everything is certified by -- on Wednesday. The other thing that he talked about that was interesting is it's going to take -- you know, California's big place. 20 to 25,000 polling stations are going to be needed for this thing and 100, 000 workers. That just gives you an idea of how hard it's going to be to pull all this together in two months. Usually they take six, seven months to prepare for these elections.

One other thing that he said that was interesting today is that, you know, if Governor Davis does not survive the first side of ballot, the ballot will be two-sided, the first one, do you want to recall him, yes or no. If he doesn't survive that side of it and he is, in fact, recalled, then it could be 39 days, 49 days before he actually leaves office because the secretary of state has up to 39 days in order to certify the ballot. And then 10 days after that, power has to be relinquished by the current governor and the new governor has to come in. So it could be up to 49 days before we see a new governor in these offices here in Sacramento -- John.

KING: So Miguel, the ballot will be different in each district within California. I assume they're doing that for fairness purposes. But doesn't that, perhaps, make it even more confusing? Mr. Schwarzenegger, for example, or Mr. Bustamante cannot run an ad that says the ballot is confusing, I'm No. 101 because they won't be in the same position across the state?

MARQUEZ: Well, only if you, the voter, are voting in more than one Congressional district. Because if I vote in the 78th Congressional district -- there's 80 districts in California -- I'll only see one ballot. So it shouldn't be too confusing.

What will be confusing, though, is just this list of names on there. And depending upon what type of voting technology you use -- some of it's not very technological at all -- it's the same exact stuff that was used in Florida a few years ago, which we'll all remember what that led to. L.A. County, for instance, 4 million voters, that's a quarter of all California voters, they still use the old Pollstar and Vote-a-matic systems, the same ones that were used in Florida -- John.

KING: Miguel Marquez in Sacramento. Just the mechanics of this election, quite confusing. We'll deal with the campaign itself in the days ahead. Thank you, Miguel.

Now to the biggest name on the recall ballot. When Arnold Schwarzenegger went to New York today, he brought the recall campaign hoopla with him, whether he intended to or not.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick has been following the "Governator" in Manhattan.

Deborah, did Schwarzenegger say anything at all about the campaign today?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, pretty much nothing at all. He answered no questions. He gave no insights on how he does to plan to fix the state of California.

We did catch up with him at a very swank midtown Manhattan restaurant. And one of the producers yelled out, "How do you plan to fix the economy?" And he said nothing except, "We'll let you know" and then he flashed a big thumbs up sign. That was pretty much all the information we were able to get from Arnold Schwarzenegger today.

He did call attention to the fact that so many members of the media were here, following him. The event at City College was a longstanding commitment. He had promised to give an award to a young lady who has risen through the ranks of his after-school program and who came up with a new name for his foundation, the After-School All- Stars. And so he was there to give out that award.

But in any event, he really didn't give any specifics. But he pointed to the back row and said, "Look at all these cameras. These cameras are here for you." So he understands now that wherever he goes, he will have -- he will be like a magnet, drawing members of the press, members of the media. Again, everybody really waiting for specifics on what kind of plan he's going to propose.

He did have lunch at the Four Seasons, as I mentioned. And there he met with a number of Republican donors, some really big guys here in New York, the powerbrokers, as it were. We understand from sources that they did speak a little bit about fundraising, but mostly also about strategy, what -- how New York's economy is and how possibly some solutions could be used to fix California's economy -- John.

KING: Any sense at all, Deborah, whether those New York fundraisers committed any money or whether New York's governor, who has a lot to say about what those fund-raisers might do, will endorse Schwarzenegger or campaign for him?

FEYERICK: No, not right now. Governor Pataki was not in town. We do understand that the two were supposed to speak by phone. Right now New York's governor has made no commitment whether he will or will not endorse Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger's people had called the Pataki folks to organize this meeting. About a dozen donors were all pulled together. We don't know if they'd committed any money. As a matter of fact, a number of people, according to our sources, were shying away from talking about the fact that this was possibly a fund-raising maneuver. Because, again, one guy actually said, No, I'm here to ask him for money. Apparently there's another program that he was looking at.

So again, everybody remaining very sketchy on what was discussed at that. But, you know, when you've got big real estate people and big political donors, one could imagine that, in fact, money was at least part of the topic.

KING: Deborah Feyerick in New York. A reminder this campaign may be in California, but it is a big issue across the nation.

Also a big issue for the White House, which says today President Bush has no plans to appear publicly with Schwarzenegger or any of the gubernatorial candidates when the president visits the state later this week. But a spokeswoman says behind the scenes meetings with GOP hopefuls have not been ruled out.

Mr. Bush has said Schwarzenegger would make a good governor. But as our senior political analyst Bill Schneider reports, the right wing of the Republican party seems to disagree.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Conservatives have a problem with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GEORGE NEUMAYR, COLUMNIST, "AMERICAN SPECTATOR" He is kind of Hollywood's idea of a good Republican, which is to say a Republican in name only, who is advancing the Democratic agenda through kind of this Trojan horse of liberal Republicanism.

SCHNEIDER: Schwarzenegger does call himself a Republican, but he doesn't call himself a conservative. He uses the dreaded "M" word.

SCHWARZENEGGER: When it comes to issues like social issues, I'm moderate. SCHNEIDER: Schwarzenegger's views on abortion and gay rights and gun control are suspect to conservatives. Worst of all, he committed the cardinal sin of telling "George" magazine in 1999, just after President Clinton Was acquitted on impeachment charges, "I was ashamed to call myself a Republican during that period."

Schwarzenegger was unhappy when conservatives defeated his moderate Republican friend Dick Riordan in last year's Republican primary.

SCHWARZENEGGER: There's no two ways about it, that a conservative Republican would not win against Gray Davis or will not win in this state of California.

SCHNEIDER: Schwarzenegger does not have to run in a Republican primary. So he's free to say what he pleases.

SCHWARZENEGGER: When businesses come back, revenues comes back. When revenue comes back, we can afford all kinds of different programs that are very important.

SCHNEIDER: That drives conservatives crazy.

NEUMAYR: He said he wanted businesses to come back so that they would pay taxes for his social programs. He doesn't seem to realize that businesses are leaving the state because they don't want to pay high taxes for those failed social programs.

SCHNEIDER: Here's one conservative who's not complaining.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think he'd be a good governor.

SCHNEIDER: Right now, 85 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of conservatives in California have a favorable opinion of Schwarzenegger. He could be their meal ticket.

But some conservatives are saying, "Beware. He could turn on us." Just like another famous GOP turncoat.

NEUMAYR: I'm afraid that he might become the Jim Jeffords of the West Coast, and this could backfire for the Republican.


SCHNEIDER: For decades, conservatives fought and suffered and sacrificed to win control of the Republican Party. And they finally did it, thanks to a movie actor named Ronald Reagan. They're not about to let another movie actor take it away from them -- John.

KING: Bill Schneider in Los Angeles. Thank you very much, Bill.

This just in to CNN from a senior Bush administration official. We have learned that President Bush will name Utah Governor Mike Levitt, a conservative, a fellow governor like the former governor who is now president to succeed Christie Todd Whitman as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. More details still to come on that announcement. But Mr. Bush to replace Christie Whitman with Utah Governor Mike Levitt at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now with all the California craziness, it's hard for the 2004 Democrats to get a word in edgewise. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware doesn't have to worry about that. In a statement today he said he has decided not to join the race for the White House. After many weeks of mulling a candidacy, Biden says he determined that his pursuit of the presidency is now, quote, "too much of a long shot."

Stay with INSIDE POLITICS for more on the race for the White House.

Later, we'll tell you why President Bush is seeing green, in more ways than one during a return to the campaign trail.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger's true Hollywood story. What else is there to know about the Terminator's life and his politics? This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


KING: With the political spotlight focusing on the California recall, you may have forgotten, but the race for the White House is in full swing. We'll tell you what the Democratic presidential candidates are up to this week.


KING: Back to the California recall in just a second. We want to tell you a little bit more. President Bush, CNN has learned, will announce in Denver later today that he has picked Utah Governor Mike Levitt, a conservative Republican, to replace Christie Whitman as the administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency. Again, that announcement from President Bush later today in Denver.

Now back to the recall campaign. With a slew of movie titles to his credit, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a household name. But how much about this megastar-turned-politician do we really know? "Esquire" magazine dug up some interesting tidbits last month. And the magazine's Jean Marie Laskas joins us now in Pittsburgh to talk about the man known as the Terminator.

Thank you for joining us. I want to start off by something in your article. Arnold Schwarzenegger's one piece of advice, said, Don't take yourself too seriously. He's one of the things he was quoted as saying in the article. "So you have to be able to sit back and look at the whole thing as kind of like a big stage play. That's the way I always see my life. It's a big play."

Is this just another role for Arnold Schwarzenegger?

JEAN MARIE LASKAS, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: Oh, I wouldn't say just another role, but I would say part of the larger picture of his life. I think he's ready for something big and new, and this is it for him. KING: Now, he also seemed, at least in the past, ambivalent about running. Another thing he told you in this article, in talking about those who campaign for office, he said, quote, "Although I admire the people who run for office, I cannot conceive of making the risks and making sacrifices they make." Why did he change his mind, do you think?

LASKAS: Well, you know, that was Arnold speaking before he was ready to come public with his announcement. So I think we have to wonder what his motivation was there. He wanted to be pretty quiet about this announcement. I think that he's quite ready to be this run, absolutely.

KING: Now, you mentioned -- I'm sorry, in the campaign now, many are saying what about the budget? What about taxes? What will you do as governor? A lot of policy details still left blank or vague for now. But you recall in the article him conversing about education policy at a stop in Detroit. Tell us about Arnold the policy wonk.

LASKAS: Well, Arnold the policy wonk, I think we're all waiting to really find out who that is. I think that his after-school campaign he's really committed to, and absolutely committed to.

And if you see him speak politics to a group of people, I think that people are quite overwhelmed with how conversant he is as a politician. I think that he loves surprising people with that -- just as he loved surprising people when he was a bodybuilder with the fact that he could act. He has played to that advantage over and over again. He spoke about that. He loves surprising you with what he's got.

KING: Now, he says he became a Republican because he liked Richard Nixon, he commissioned a bust of Ronald Reagan. Yet he is married, of course, to a famous member of the Kennedy clan. What is your sense of how his politics have evolved over time and how they have affected who he is today?

LASKAS: I think that his politics are still evolving. I think, again, I think we're waiting to hear, we're all waiting to hear what his politics are. We know that he's moderate on social issues, but we are all waiting to hear what his politics are.

But,yes, he's married to, you know, a Kennedy. So, you know, are we surprised by his moderate social views? I don't think so. But I think we're all waiting to hear what his policies are.

KING: Any sense from your time with him as to how thin-skinned or thick-skinned he is? We're going to have a very tough campaign. He says the he expects the attacks. What will we see when they come?

LASKAS: Oh, he's so thick-skinned, it'll be a sport for him. I don't think that's at all a worry for him. I think that he's absolutely ready for this. I think he's a man with a voracious appetite, whether it be a movie career or whatever else is next in his life. And I think he's ready to take this on, absolutely. KING: You have watched this overwhelming nonstop coverage in recent days. Tell us something that you learned about Arnold Schwarzenegger that you have not seen, have not heard.

LASKAS: Oh, I think that, you know, until you sit in a room with him one on one, you can't really appreciate the force. He is a force of nature. He -- when he wants something, he gets it. So I think that we have to expect that he really, really may get this.

I think that, you know, who would expect that he could become the superstar that he became from his, you know, quite literal humble roots in Austria. I think that he wants this. I think when you actually listen to him speak, you hear the passion for this that's driving him now.

KING: Jean Marie Laskas, we thank you for your time today. And to anyone watching if you can find the July issue of "Esquire" quite a great article on Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank you very much.

And up next, we'll turn our attention to national politics. One of Democratic presidential hopefuls in this year's campaign just got an endorsement that should make his father proud.


KING: A live picture here, Abuja International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria. This plane carrying the former president of Liberia Charles Taylor, who has left his country earlier today, stepped down from power. He took this flight to Nigeria. Excuse me. This was a key demand of the United States and other countries around the world that President Charles Taylor step down from Liberia. But not only step down, that he leave the country as well. Again, you are seeing here a live picture in Abuja, Nigeria, of the plane carrying the former Liberian president Charles Taylor out of his country.

What happens next still remains unclear. The former president Taylor under indictment for U.N. war crimes allegations. You see here stepping off the plane, several of the African leaders who went into Monrovia, Liberia, earlier in the day to participate in ceremonies in which President Taylor stepped down. His vice president took over in Liberia, and former President Charles Taylor now in Nigeria. This was a key demand of the Bush administration for sending in any U.S. peacekeepers.

We will continue to bring you developments as they warrant, including if President Taylor himself steps off -- former President Taylor. And if he says anything, we will stay with that. Stay with us.

Now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," President Bush is seeing green on the trail today, plugging his environmental record and raising campaign cash. During a stop in Arizona, Mr. Bush toured a community devastated by wildfires. And he called on Congress to pass legislation that would clear the way for quick thinning of overgrown forests. Tonight he headlines a $2,000-a- person fund raiser in Colorado. And CNN has been told that while in Denver, Mr. Bush will announce his selection of the Utah governor, Mike Levitt, to become the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The '04 Democrats are getting together in Philadelphia tonight for a town-hall style meeting, one of several forums he'll take part this week as the summer winds down and the Democratic race intensifies.

At those events and on the trail, Dick Gephardt is trying to get more mileage out of his latest union endorsement. As expected, the Teamsters Union formally backed Gephardt over the weekend, saying he is -- quote -- 100 percent for unions and working families.

The Teamsters endorsement may be especially touching to Gephardt. His father was a union member. And while he says his roots run deep with the working man, his grasp on the issues may not be so tight.

Our Bruce Morton takes a look at Gephardt's past and present.


GEPHARDT: Stand up with me on March the 8th. It's your fight, too!

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dick Gephardt has been around. This was running for president in 1988. He first came to Congress in 1977, and, as he became a national figure, changed on a lot of issues. From anti-abortion to abortion rights, once supported prayer in public schools, once joined then-Missouri Attorney General John Ashcroft, who opposed forced school busing in St. Louis. His 1988 opponents noticed his changes.

AL GORE (D), 1988 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dick Gephardt, for example, has changed one position after another.

MORTON: Critics say expediency, politics. He says meeting different people, learning more about issues.

He's been consistent about his working-class roots.

GEPHARDT: My dad was a Teamster and a milk truck driver in St. Louis, Missouri.

MORTON: And he's been a pretty consistent Labor ally, for requiring American-made parts on car imports, taxing imports from countries he says tax U.S. products, against NAFTA.

GEPHARDT: Neither Mexico nor Canada, nor America would be benefited by a system that benignly looked on massive air pollution, poisonous pesticides and child labor as comparative advantages.

MORTON: The centerpiece of his presidential campaign this time is a health care plan that would repeal President Bush's tax cuts and use the money to give tax credits to businesses which would have to spend the money on health premiums for employees. GEPHARDT: How can we, the richest country on the face of the Earth, continue to do nothing while 41 million Americans live without health coverage?

MORTON: He opposed the first Gulf War, but supported President Bush on this one.

GEPHARDT: This should not be about politics.

MORTON: Some Democrats resent his stand. He's been heckled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is outrage about that. People lobby because there was a lack of courage.

MORTON: So his campaign's had some bumps. Some unions have endorsed him, but not the AF of L-CIO. Money is lagging. Can he get big Labor if he isn't raising money and can he raise money if he doesn't get big Labor? Does he have to win Iowa, as he did in 1988?

The answer to that is probably yes.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.



KING: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King in Washington. Come back tomorrow. More coverage of the California recall, as well as presidential campaigning this summer.


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