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THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

A Week of Surprises, Changing Tactics

August 17, 2003|Doug Smith

The recall election campaign began in earnest as Arnold Schwarzenegger brought several prominent figures on board and Gray Davis focused on his duties as governor rather than going on the attack. Opponents pressed the movie star to say how he would handle the state's problems.

Sunday

* With nearly 200 candidates attempting to qualify, state election officials warn that the vote tally could take several days after the Oct. 7 recall election. In some counties with paper-based voting systems, the candidate roll might require three or more cards, making it necessary for election workers to read the ballots by hand to ensure that each voter chose only one alternative to Davis.

* Major candidates slow their frenetic pace of appearances, but it's a busy day on the Sunday news talk shows as several attack each other. Two Republicans criticize actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, for a lack of substance in his campaign.

"We don't know where he stands on the issues," Bill Simon Jr., who lost to Davis in the November 2002 election, says on "Fox News Sunday." "This is not a time for sound bites, Hollywood scripts."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday August 18, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 1 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
Recall campaign -- A summary on the front page of Sunday's Section A directing readers to the Week in Review feature on the gubernatorial recall campaign referred to an item that did not appear in the column. The item, dropped because of space constraints, read: Sources say actor Rob Lowe, formerly of "The West Wing," will join the [Arnold] Schwarzenegger campaign as a senior advisor.

"There's a great deal that I'm sure Arnold Schwarzenegger could teach me about making movies," state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) says. "There's a great deal I could teach him about the fiscal reforms necessary to set this state right, but there's no time for training."

* Former Gov. Pete Wilson, Schwarzenegger's campaign co-chairman, adds a new target, saying the actor backed Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot measure that sought to curb public services for illegal immigrants.

* State Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres says the disclosure will become an issue for Democrats, "especially in the Latino community."

* Davis' wife, Sharon, appears at an anti-recall rally and says she expects former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), to support her husband's campaign.

* The California Republican Assembly, a conservative group, bypasses Schwarzenegger and endorses McClintock.

Monday

* Secretary of State Kevin Shelley settles on $66 million as the probable cost of the recall election and says 96 candidates have filed for the ballot, with the nomination papers of 95 others still to be examined.

* Shelley also announces that the order in which candidates appear on the ballot will be rotated by Assembly district and will begin in Sacramento's 1st District with last names starting with R.

* Democratic Party leaders establish a two-part strategy of urging a "no" vote on the recall while supporting Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as the best backup should Davis be recalled.

* Schwarzenegger is in New York at an event for after-school programs and refuses to answer reporters' questions.

"There's no questions, because this event is about children," an aide says.

* Schwarzenegger opens an Eastern front, as New York Gov. George Pataki, who has known him through years of political functions, sets up a lunch with heavy hitters from business and the Republican Party. Schwarzenegger tells them he is not yet accepting campaign contributions but may return to New York later.

* Other Republicans in the race continue attacking the actor, and start on each other. Simon says McClintock is a good man, but he "is not going to have the resources" to run a competitive race.

* Appearing at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Davis says he takes Bustamante at his word that he opposes the recall even though he has decided to run.

Tuesday

* Davis heeds advice from prominent Democratic backers to refrain from his usual campaign strategy of criticizing opponents in ads. Instead, he works to project himself as the sitting governor doing the job the people of California elected him for. In a string of public appearances, Davis signs a ban on toxic flame retardants, endorses an antidiscrimination measure and supports abortion-related legislation.

"People are upset in this state, and the governor understands that," campaign communications director Peter Ragone says. "While other people are aggressively playing politics, the governor is aggressively governing."

Davis aides say the strategy is modeled after Clinton's handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and, in fact, was suggested by Clinton, who counsels Davis three or four times a day by phone.

* Less than a week after entering the campaign, Schwarzenegger revamps his staff, strengthening ties to former Gov. Wilson. In the shuffle, day-to-day operations go to Bob White, Wilson's staff chief, who brings along another top Wilson aide. Sources say the change reflects assertiveness by Schwarzenegger's wife, commentator Maria Shriver, who was reportedly displeased with his booking on a series of national news shows when he had had little sleep.

"There are tensions inside," one Republican strategist says of the shakeup. "It's not as cohesive as it was."

But Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh, another former Wilson aide, downplays the moves.

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