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Ueberroth Sells His Economic Message

The GOP hopeful, addressing taxes and jobs, denies pressure to yield to Schwarzenegger.

August 28, 2003|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

Republican Peter V. Ueberroth appeared on two nationally televised news programs Wednesday to paint himself as California's best hope for fiscal salvation in an election that he called "history in the making."

In afternoon appearances on CNN's "Inside Politics" and Fox News' "Your World With Neil Cavuto," Ueberroth restated his aversion to taxes as a solution to the state's budget woes and denied that he is being pressured by fellow Republicans to drop out of the Oct. 7 recall election and unite behind Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Nobody's asking me to get out of this race. The voters are going to make the decision," he told CNN.

Ueberroth told CNN that "after the din wears off and people get serious about this campaign," voters will begin looking for someone who can lead California out of its budget mess.

"The voters in California are not dummies," Ueberroth said. "They've all got friends who've lost jobs. They understand what's happening to the economy, and they're going to look for leadership."

Ueberroth, who spent the 1980s organizing the Los Angeles Summer Olympics and as commissioner of Major League Baseball, repeated his belief that tax hikes will erode the state's already declining job base, overwhelming any short-term revenue gains.

Ueberroth said earlier in the campaign that the exodus of jobs from California must stop. Yet in his interview with Fox, he did not fault U.S. computer chip maker Intel when asked about its plan to build a $200-million plant in China with 675 jobs.

"Global companies have to make smart decisions," he said. The response, he said, should be for California to make itself attractive for Asian companies seeking to enter North American -- although he offered no specifics on how to do that.

Ueberroth declined to compare his campaign with that of Schwarzenegger, who has similarly tried to position himself as a political outsider who would bring an independent eye to Sacramento.

"I'm taking no shots at anybody who wants to be a public servant," Ueberroth said.

His TV appearances came on the eve of his first in a series of town hall-style meetings, set for noon today in San Diego.

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