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Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger Holds News Conference

Aired October 9, 2003 - 16:49   ET


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Speaking of Arnold, Arnold is speaking right now back up at the podium at his press conference.

BEGALA: Let's go back to Santa Monica, California, and watch the new governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.


GOV.-ELECT SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. It's already much better. Very good one.

As I promised you yesterday, that today I will announce my transition team. And I want to thank right off the top a few people that have been very helpful and instrumental of picking some of the people on this transition team.

I want to thank very much Senator Jim Guldee (ph) who was very helpful from the beginning. We started this process of course 10 days ago and have been working tirelessly since then.

I also want to thank Congressman David Dreier who is standing next to me and who is the chairman of the transition team.

Then I want to thank also Bob White (ph), who of course has been with me from the beginning. And also Mayor Dick Riordan, who was very instrumental in picking some of the key names on this list.

As I have said in my campaign all along, I want to reach out, I want to be the people's governor. I want to be the governor for everybody, not just for Republicans or not just for Democrats, for everybody.

And so when you look at this list which will be handed out to you at the end of the press conference, you will see a very diversified team of people on the list. You will see people that are to the left, people that are to the right, and people that are to the center.

You will see people all the way from Bill Simon, all the way to the other side, of Willie Brown. You will see a very diversified list.

And this is exactly what I want to do. These are the people that have been chosen to help me and to make recommendations of names of the best and the brightest people in this state to come and work for me, to come and work at my administration. I want to have the best and the brightest people work at my administration.

And so, this is what we have done so far and I want to now give the microphone to my chairman of the transition team, David Dreier.


REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, thank you very much, Governor.

Let me begin. I've just come in from Washington last night, and so I officially want to congratulate my great friend and our new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And so congratulations to you, Governor.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you. Thank you.

DREIER: I'm very honored to have been asked to chair the transition process. My first responsibility, of course, is to the people of California, whom I represent in Washington D.C. But I believe that there is nothing more important that I can do for them than to play a role ensuring that we turn this entire state of California around.

And so we have over the last 10 days, as the governor has just said, worked to assemble a group that you will get the names in just a few minutes. It consists of a very, very diverse group of people, philosophically, geographically, demographically. You have some very conservative and some very liberal people on this group.

But I will tell you that one of the reasons that this will be a somewhat unusual group is that we have a very unusual person stepping up to the plate to become our governor.

He has regularly underscored his fiscally conservative policies, and he's talked about that repeatedly, and the reason that I'm so convinced that we can have a very, very diverse group is the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He is in a position where he will get a wide range of recommendations from the people throughout the state and from around the country, I'm sure, as well. And as those recommendations come in, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be making the final decisions, and he is in a very, very good position to do that.

I should say that the process has already begun. Yesterday, the Office of Transition opened in Sacramento, and we'll be providing you with the address and the number and our contacts there. We already have a staff at work, in the process of taking the information from anyone who's interested.

And I should ask everyone here who does have an interest in being able to participate in this very historic opportunity with Governor Schwarzenegger to go onto the web page with, which you're all familiar now,, and there is a link at that spot for the transition, where you can submit resumes, you can submit any information that you would like for our transition office.

We do know that at the beginning of this campaign, Arnold Schwarzenegger received a wide range of reports on exactly what the ramifications of the state's budget crisis is.

And one of the things the he said that he wanted to do at that point was he wanted to have an audit conducted of the state's budget to find out exactly where we stand.

DREIER: And so, I'm very pleased that the first action of our transition committee today is going to be announced, the person who will be leading our audit that is going to be conducted.

We know that there are a number of governors who, across this country, faced very serious fiscal challenges in their states. In Michigan, in New York and in Florida, Governors John Engler, George Pataki and Jeb Bush have dealt with very serious challenges when it's come to their budget.

And so, we're very pleased that the person who served as the deputy director of finance in Michigan and the director of finance in both New York and, presently, the director of finance working for Jeb Bush in Florida has agreed to join us as the leader of this audit. And I want to begin by saying as I prepare to introduce her that we very much appreciate the fact that Governor Jeb Bush has allowed her to come to tackle what we know is going to be a great challenge here.

And so, I'm pleased to introduce Ms. Donna Ardwin (ph).

Donna (ph)?


DONNA ARDWIN (ph), FINANCE ADVISER TO GOVERNOR-ELECT ARNOLD SCHWARZNEGGER: Governor, thank you. Thank you so much, Governor.

ARDWIN (ph): I am truly honored to be here to assist you...


SCHWARZENEGGER: ... but I will share that with you later on, OK? Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a question about Ms. Ardwin (ph).

QUESTION: Ms. Ardwin (ph), how long do you anticipate that in order to get the complete and thorough answers that the governor-elect is looking for, how long do you think that process will take?

And, Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, do you expect that it will be done in time for you to submit a budget by the end of January?

ARDWIN (ph): Well, we're going to get to work this afternoon, so as soon as we get to work, we'll be able to get done with the audit.

QUESTION: Do you expect to have -- I mean, can you tell us, ballpark figure, how long you expect it to take?

ARDWIN (ph): Well, we intend to work through his transition time and then, as he works through his first couple of months being governor, he will put his budget recommendations together.

QUESTION: But again, the question is, he's got to submit a budget by January. Will your job be done by January?

ARDWIN (ph): Absolutely.

QUESTION: Mr. Schwarzenegger, you've said repeatedly that you want to let the sun shine in. There's a very large budget document, the Department of Finance has many things. What are they hiding? What do you think that they're hiding?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, we don't know. I mean, this is why it was great to have Donna (ph) here and to start with the work right away, because we will know very soon of what is in there that we don't know. As you know that every day there are new surprises that we find. And so we want to really open up the books and not have any surprises, because the only way that you can make good decisions is if you have all the information available.

And so this is what I'm looking for, because we know that all the information is not available right now and that's what I'm looking for. There's a lot of areas that we need to know.

QUESTION: I'm curious. How do you know that there's a lot of information that's not available? What's...

SCHWARZENEGGER: Because no one knows -- up until just very recently, we have heard that, you know, the budget deficit, the operating deficit, is going to be $6 to $8 billion. Now we find that it's going to be $10 billion. Very soon, we're going to find out it's going to be $20-plus billion.

So there's a lot of things we don't know. What we want to do is really get in there and find out.

QUESTION: Governor, how much of a White House connection is there in your transition team? And will it remain after you become governor?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, we actually have no White House connection in our transition team, but I am looking forward to working with the White House and working with the federal government, because, as you know, in my campaign I have said many times that there's much money to be collected by the federal government.

We have been paying -- for each dollar that we have been paying on federal taxes, we only have been getting back 77 cents. So I want to collect, you know, some of that money.

And President Bush and I had a good conversation yesterday when he congratulated me, and we talked about that. And we talked about that I need his help and I need the federal government's help, and they have to come in and really help us, you know, straighten out California and bring California back again.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Alone, we can't do it. We need the help of the federal government.

QUESTION: Can I ask you your thoughts in general, your philosophy about the concept of selling bonds if necessary to deal with a deficit? Obviously, that's something that the soon-to-be previous administration had wanted to do.

Do you think that is a wise thing? Are there problems, long-term problems if you do that? Do you oppose it or not?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that especially it's not wise if you don't include the people, you know? Because I think the people should make that decision, and the bond issues and all that.

So, I mean, I think this is why it's going to court right now, and this is why it could easily be that it will add another $10-plus billion to the deficit.

QUESTION: What side will you take on it going to court? Will you ...

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will let you know as we go down that road. But, I mean, I think that we need to do it the right way, the legal way, the way it always has been done in California, rather than brushing the debt under the rug and pretend like we don't have that debt, and we don't have that deficit and all those kind of things.

We want to expose everything, let the people see what's going on. That's what I want to do. The California people right now do not know, you know, exactly what the problems are.

They know there's a $38.2 billion deficit, they know that there maybe is a $10 billion operating -- I mean debt, I should say -- they know there is an operating deficit of $10 billion, but it could be $20 billion.

So this changes a lot. I mean, you know, you're talking here about some major, major changes.

QUESTION: Are you opposed to the idea of putting something on the ballot, letting the people decide if they want to sell bonds to deal with the deficit?

Would you...

SCHWARZENEGGER: As soon as, like I said, as soon as we go get in there, as soon as I have the chance of looking at the books, and this is why this was one of the greatest things that happened, is for Donna (ph) to agree, you know, to be the director of this audit and to take over that.

Because, I mean, she's such an expert in this subject and has done it so many times, I mean, there is like everywhere that I looked in this country for the best, her name came up. So I'm very excited about that, and I think that then we will have many more answers, and as soon as I have them, I will be sharing it with you.

QUESTION: Can we ask you about a couple of the bills. You've been opposed, obviously, to illegal immigrant driver's license. You've also said the same thing when talking about the car tax, rescinding that.

What about the fact the medical insurance bill that went through, that's a third major bill that some people say were very controversial.

QUESTION: Governor Davis, obviously, supported it, having to do with providing medical insurance for small employers having to provide them to their employees 50 or above, if that's who they employed.

Are you opposed to that? Is that one of the three bills you're going to be going after when you first take office?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm opposed to it, absolutely, because I think that right now, as I have said in my campaign over and over again, that we have to create a positive business atmosphere here. We want to create an atmosphere so businesses can again flourish and want to come back to the state, do business here.

We want to encourage people to start small businesses. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we have to bring the economy back. And the only way we can do that is by not loading up on businesses more regulations, more rules, more taxes or, for instance, more of those kind of overhead. I mean, right now businesses cannot afford that.

I mean, later on we can talk about those things, but right now we shouldn't.

QUESTION: So as the audit goes on, can we expect, as Californians, that these three bills are going to be rescinded? Is that what the plan is? As the audit goes on, this is the other business you're going to be working on.

SCHWARZENEGGER: As soon as I get in there, I will share that information with you. Right now, what the day's all about is to announce my transition team and, you know, to say, you know, thank you to Donna (ph), thank you to David for leading this, you know, the audit and also the transition team. This is great news because you will see when you see the list that we have the best and the brightest people involved in that. They will be making great recommendations on who we should hire so I have a great diversified administration.

Again, I have to say that even though I have a lot of help with Congressman David Drier and other people, I will make the final decision on this. You know, as you know, I campaigned on fiscal responsibility. I will continue working on that to be fiscally responsible. And, you know, I'm very excited of having this diversified team. QUESTION: Governor, it sounds like you're going to try to rescind that health insurance bill, which was offered by John Burton. Sounds like you want to rescind that.

Do you want to rescind that health insurance bill?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will share that information as soon as I make a decision on that, but I just told you that I was against it.

Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Congratulations.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you. Thank you.

QUESTION: I'm tired? I'm sure you are.

SCHWARZENEGGER: You're tired? You've no reason to be tired. A young man like you, full of energy, riding motorcycles. Come on.


QUESTION: Who introduced you to Congressman Dreier, first of all? How do you know each other? And second, what happened to John Cogan (ph)? I think he was going to be the auditor?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, Congressman David Dreier and I have been friends and have worked together on many different things. And, you know, one of the things that, for instance, Congressman Dreier has helped me a lot is when I went to Washington and I wanted to get the $400 million back for after-school programs and he was very instrumental to pull together a lot of the Republican leaders in Washington and then to also have a hearing on the Capitol on this issue. And we got the money back, we got the $400 million back.

So we have worked on things and I have supported him and he has supported me. So we have been friends.

And of course I wanted to have him right away help me. So he was actually one of the first phone calls I made, I made when I announced on "The Tonight Show." I called the congressman and I said, "I just announced" -- because no one, of course, knew. And so, you know, and I said, "And I need your help."

So from that point on he was right there and helped me. You know, being out there, doing endless amount of interviews on my behalf. And, you know, he has done such an extraordinary job. I mean, he helped me get a lot of votes, trust me.

QUESTION: And you still won.

SCHWARZENEGGER: And I still won, exactly.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor- elect of California, praising Congressman David Dreier for all the help he received in helping to get him elected. The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announcing his transition team, getting ready to assume power in Sacramento. We'll continue to monitor this news conference by the governor-elect. Go back there live if warranted.


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