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THE RECALL CAMPAIGN | AD WATCH

Arnold Schwarzenegger

September 23, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger released two new ads Monday. One was produced by the actor's pro-recall committee, named Total Recall after one of his movies. It is the pro-recall committee's first ad. The 30-second spot does not mention Schwarzenegger except in fine print at its conclusion. Both ads are running statewide.

Title: "People"

Producer: Don Sipple, Sipple Strategic Communications

Script: The ad juxtaposes graphics of Gray Davis' "record" with footage from what are shown as man-on-the street interviews shot in Santa Monica.

A woman in business attire says, "Well, if we gotta change California, then we have to change our governor." Then, on screen, in blue print on a white background, the words are flashed "GRAY DAVIS RECORD: $10 Billion Surplus Turned Into $38 Billion Deficit." Then a man says: "Gray Davis' fiscal mismanagement alone is a reason to recall him," which is followed by a screen that says "GRAY DAVIS RECORD: Increased Car Tax 300%." A woman says: "300% is ridiculous. Nobody can afford to pay that." The screen then says: "GRAY DAVIS RECORD: 300,000 Manufacturing Jobs Lost," as an older man in glasses says, "Davis hasn't done anything to help jobs in California. We're losing jobs."

The screen again shows "Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants" and a woman says, "Makes no sense at all. If they're here illegally, why should they be able to drive legally?" Finally, an older man says, "People are sick and tired of the way Gray Davis has mismanaged this great state of ours" as the words "YES ON RECALL" flash in red over his left shoulder. On the bottom of the screen, in small text, appear the words: "Paid for by Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall committee. Vote yes to recall Gray Davis. Major funders of the recall committee include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Folino."

Accuracy: While Davis was governor, the state budget turned from surplus to deficit, though the blame for that change has fallen not just on Davis but on legislators and the declining national economy. The exact deficit figures are estimates; Schwarzenegger has said it's impossible to know precisely how large the deficit is. Governors can be recalled for any reason -- there are no clear criteria in the state Constitution, so fiscal mismanagement would qualify. The car tax was tripled, though Davis maintains the increase was required by a law passed under former Gov. Pete Wilson, who is Schwarzenegger's campaign co-chairman. Manufacturing jobs have been lost in California, although Davis says that California has lost fewer jobs on a percentage basis than the country as a whole. The ad is accurate in stating that Davis has signed legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, though such licenses won't be available for several months.

Analysis: Schwarzenegger has focused his campaign on his race for governor -- not the recall question. After trying to consolidate the Republican field and trading barbs with Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Schwarzenegger returns here to the question of the recall itself. Some advocates of the recall have complained that while Davis has been spending millions to defeat the recall, the candidates to replace him have ignored the recall question and have concentrated only on promoting themselves. Schwarzenegger's strategists have noted a decline in support for the recall in their own polls, and the candidate himself has pledged to devote more time and resources to urging people to vote against Davis. The fiscal and tax themes mentioned here are central to the Schwarzenegger campaign, even though the actor does not appear in the ad. The ad's lone mention of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants is new.

Los Angeles Times

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