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Satisfied, McClintock Agrees to Debate

September 20, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

State Sen. Tom McClintock reversed course Friday on his threat to boycott next week's debate in Sacramento, saying he was satisfied with the format set up by the California Broadcasters Assn.

McClintock and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante had threatened Thursday to skip the event and hold their own debate unless organizers revamped the program, which is to include questions provided to the candidates beforehand.

The debate, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening at Cal State Sacramento, is the only one that Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed to attending.

On Friday, McClintock's campaign said he was pleased with changes that will allow candidates to quiz each other.

In fact, the debate always included that feature and has not been changed, said association President Stan Statham.

Bustamante said Friday that he still hoped the organizers would discard the questions that have been provided in advance. He would not say whether he would participate.

Green Party candidate Peter Camejo and Arianna Huffington, running as a non-partisan, on Friday reaffirmed plans to participate.

Gore Joins Davis to Denounce the Recall

Former Vice President Al Gore accused Republicans on Friday of making "a spectacle of our democracy" as he joined Gov. Gray Davis to campaign against the recall.

"Don't let them do this!" Gore shouted at a rally of 300 Democratic Party loyalists at a San Francisco union hall.

Gore was the latest national Democratic Party star to join Davis in California this week to denounce the recall. Among them have been former President Clinton and two U.S. senators running for president: John Kerry of Massachusetts and Bob Graham of Florida.

"You can help the entire country by defeating this," Gore told the crowd.

Earlier, at a rally with Davis in South Los Angeles, Gore described the recall as a Republican effort to avenge the party's loss in the governor's race last year. He accused recall sponsors of "disrespecting the majority of Californians who voted."

Davis, who has used the Florida ballot problems of 2000 as a rallying cry for Democrats against the recall, painted the campaign as part of a national Republican plot to end-run the country's election system.

"What's happening in California really began when they tried to impeach Bill Clinton after they couldn't beat him in '96, when they tried to stop -- and did stop -- the vote count in Florida, because this man, Al Gore, had already got more votes than George Bush," Davis said.

Delay in Vote Means Return to Square One

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley warned Friday that, if the recall is delayed until March, the entire process will begin again. That would mean the ballot would be reopened for new candidates.

"I think the effect on this election, if we have to redo all of this, is devastating," he said

He also said voters' confusion over when the ballot recall would be held has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of absentee ballots received.

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