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THE STATE | THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Accusations Make for a Turbulent Week

About a dozen women say that Schwarzenegger touched them in a sexual manner without their consent. The candidate calls one report 'trash politics,' but apologizes for having 'behaved badly.' Poll finds Davis losing ground.

October 05, 2003

Monday

* As the campaign entered its final leg, Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared to pick up momentum in his drive to unseat Gov. Gray Davis, with a new USA Today/CNN poll showing his candidacy on the ascent.

The actor told a crowd: "This is now hand-to-hand combat. We are not in the trenches. This is war."

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, whom the poll showed losing support, stressed the need for Democratic unity. "We had hoped by the time we had got to the end that we would be able to unify the family, the Democratic family."

*

Tuesday

* A solid majority of likely voters favored removing Davis from office in the recall election, and Arnold Schwarzenegger had surged ahead of his rivals in the race to succeed him, according to a Times poll. By 56% to 42%, likely voters support ousting the Democratic incumbent, a sign that Davis had lost ground in the closing phase of his battle for political survival. Support for Davis had slipped in key parts of his political base -- Democrats, women, moderates and liberals among them -- since the last Times poll in early September found 50% for the recall and 47% against it. Poll respondent Gladys Taub, a North Hills Democrat, said: "Gov. Davis has been doing a terrible job, and I just want to get rid of him. Look at the state our state is in. If I ran my home that way, spending a whole lot more money than I was taking in, I'd wind up bankrupt."

Jim Rego, 58, a Castro Valley independent, said of the Republican actor: "I look at him as maybe like a Kennedy, where he really wants to do something good, because he's not in it for the money."

* Independent Arianna Huffington withdrew from the race to replace Davis, saying she was worried about the prospect of Schwarzenegger as governor.

"I have a sense of foreboding about what could happen to the state" if Schwarzenegger is elected, Huffington said in an interview.

Huffington said she planned to tell disaffected voters: "I understand why you want a change and why you may be tempted to vote for Schwarzenegger, because you see him as an outsider. But wake up and look at the reality of who Schwarzenegger is."

*

Wednesday

* Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades said he had touched them in a sexual manner without their consent. Three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said that he had reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks. A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger had groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger had pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.

"Did he rape me? No," said one woman, who described a 1980 encounter in which she said Schwarzenegger had touched her breast. "Did he humiliate me? You bet he did."

E. Laine Stockton said she was sitting on an exercise bench at a gym in 1975 when Schwarzenegger walked up behind her, reached under her T-shirt and touched her bare left breast. "The gym is full of bodybuilders and Arnold comes and he gropes my breast -- actually touches my breast with his left hand," she said.

Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesman, Sean Walsh, said the candidate had not engaged in improper conduct toward women. "We believe Democrats and others are using this to try to hurt Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign," Walsh said.

* Schwarzenegger announced a 10-step plan for his first 100 days in office and declared that if legislators didn't follow his lead, he would seek approval for his proposals through the initiative process. Schwarzenegger's speech was significant for its tone and purpose -- compiling the disparate proposals of his campaign into one speech and presenting it under the mantle of a presumed governor-elect. "I am not here today to talk about campaigning," he said. "I'm here today to talk about governing." He also said: "The question really is: What would a Davis administration do in the next 100 days? They say no to the recall to take us back. I say yes to California. I will move us forward."

*

Thursday

* Schwarzenegger apologized for having "behaved badly" toward women and insisted that he would champion their cause. Responding to a Times story on accusations by six women that he had touched them in a sexual manner without their consent, Schwarzenegger dismissed the report as "trash politics," but went on to acknowledge unspecified wrongdoing.

Schwarzenegger said: "I always say that wherever there is smoke, there is fire.... So I want to say to you, yes, I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets, and I have done things that were not right, which I thought then was playful. But I now recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, I am deeply sorry about that, and I apologize."

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