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THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Schwarzenegger Makes Appeal to Apathetic Voters

Rival McClintock reiterates his refusal to drop out of the race and says his momentum will win over some of the actor's supporters.

September 15, 2003|Peter Nicholas | Times Staff Writer

Arnold Schwarzenegger appealed for help Sunday from people who typically stay home on election day, while state Sen. Tom McClintock questioned the actor's command of the issues.

The two men chose starkly different approaches in brief public appearances. Invoking lines from his movies, Schwarzenegger ridiculed Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as the "twin terminators of Sacramento" -- responsible for a loss of jobs, businesses and dreams.

Schwarzenegger made no mention of McClintock, who is facing pressure from some Republican leaders to drop out of the race.

He told a firefighters group in Costa Mesa that "the way it's going right now is disastrous. Let's stop the Davis-Bustamante administration. Let's terminate them. Let's say, 'Hasta la vista, baby' to those guys."

He said he identified with firefighters, having played one in his movie "Collateral Damage."

"That's when I realized how tough a job it is and how you're putting your life at risk all the time," he said. "I had to go through training sessions for the movie -- to learn how to put on the gear and climb up a ladder and crawl through holes in the windows and jump with 100-pound gear. I realized how tough a profession that is."

McClintock, in an interview with a San Francisco television station, made Schwarzenegger a target.

"If the Schwarzenegger campaign spent a tenth of the time studying the issues as they've spent trying to muscle me out of the race, they'd be in much better shape today," McClintock said.

McClintock reiterated his refusal to drop out of the race -- and even suggested that if his campaign gains steam, Schwarzenegger might consider bowing out.

"The momentum has been entirely with my campaign from the first day of the race," he said. "Arnold has been stuck in the mid-to-low 20s in every poll. He's not going anywhere. If that momentum continues in the next couple of weeks, what is now a three-person race will easily become a two-person race -- between me and Cruz Bustamante."

"As our momentum continues and Arnold remains stuck dead in the water, I think you're going to see a great deal of his supporters come over to my side," McClintock said. "Their principal argument is, 'Well, McClintock is a better candidate, but he just can't win.' As we begin to demonstrate we can win, you'll see an avalanche of Schwarzenegger supporters moving into my column."

The appearances followed a state Republican convention in Los Angeles where each candidate sought to persuade the party that he stands the best chance of knocking off Bustamante should the governor be recalled.

In his remarks to the California State Firefighters Assn., Schwarzenegger set aside his intra-party dispute with McClintock. Trailing Bustamante in the polls, the actor called upon people who don't normally vote to take part in the recall.

"It doesn't matter if you never voted before, I need your help," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're not registered yet. Sept. 22 is the deadline. Register. Let your voice be heard. Because I need your help. Only together we can do it. We have to participate. Reach out to as many people as you can. Bring them in and vote."

After his remarks, Schwarzenegger circled the hotel ballroom where the firefighters were gathered for a conference, shook hands and posed for pictures.

He also accepted an endorsement from the association, which provides training, seminars and professional development to its 28,000 members. He left without taking questions from reporters.

In contrast to the firefighters association that Schwarzenegger addressed Sunday, the California Professional Firefighters, an umbrella union for state firefighters, supports Davis and is fighting the recall.

Schwarzenegger on Sunday also attended two fund-raisers: one hosted by actor Jim Belushi, another by Kelly and Robert Day, Bob Tuttle and Brad Freeman.

Robert Day is a member of Schwarzenegger's economic team and chairman of the Los Angeles investment firm TCW Group, which manages $85 billion. Tuttle is an auto dealer; Freeman an investment banker.

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Times staff writer Joe Mathews contributed to this report.

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