Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver spoke Thursday to thousands at a women's conference less than two weeks before the special election, but neither talked about his ballot measures.
Schwarzenegger, in a short address at the Long Beach conference, did not mention the Nov. 8 special election or any of the four initiatives he is working feverishly to pass.
In downtown Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined a few hundred people at a raucous rally to oppose the measures.
In his speech, the governor noted the "countless roles that women play in our society: mothers, sisters, wives, employees, bosses, volunteers, adventurers, caregivers -- and incredibly, many of those roles all at the same time. Women are truly architects of change at home, in California, and all over the world."
Shortly after he started speaking, about 15 nurses, teachers and other protesters who had infiltrated the arena unfurled banners and began chanting: "We nurse. We teach. You won't stop our speech."
Plainclothes security guards quickly converged and led them out of the building. Some of the protesters later complained that the guards treated them roughly.
Schwarzenegger did not acknowledge the protesters in any way -- avoiding the misstep he made at the women's conference last year, when he labeled protesting nurses "special interests." He boasted that he was always "kicking their butts."
This time, as the nurses were marched out of the building, Schwarzenegger was praising his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who watched from the front rows. He did not pause as the demonstrators were led away.
Polls show that voters largely oppose Schwarzenegger's efforts to rein in state spending, make it tougher for schoolteachers to earn tenure, strip legislators of the power to draw voting districts, and forbid public employee unions to make political contributions without the approval of their members.
Speaking earlier in the day at the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women and Families, Maria Shriver urged women to be courageous "warriors" in pursuit of societal change
Shriver declined to say whether she endorsed the four initiatives that Schwarzenegger says are crucial to California's future; nor did she even mention them specifically.
Schwarzenegger had recently suggested that Shriver, a Democrat, might endorse his initiatives at Thursday's conference.
Shriver instead praised her husband as a "good man and a courageous man."
"You certainly can let people know you love and believe in your husband, even while people on one side scream for you to denounce him, and those on the other side scream for you to support him," she said.
She also poked at one of her husband's most celebrated detractors: movie star Warren Beatty. Beatty, often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2006, has given pointed speeches in recent months painting Schwarzenegger's tenure as a failure.
"When I look in the mirror, I don't just see a first lady," Shriver said. "I don't just see a Kennedy or a Schwarzenegger. I don't just see a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister or a friend." Her voice swelling with enthusiasm, she added: "Thank God I don't see Warren Beatty!"
In a telephone interview afterward, Beatty said: "I like Maria, but I would think that she might have some trouble looking in the mirror because she knows and I know that all these right-wing union-busting initiatives are bad for California.
"And this expensive extra election has been demanded by Gov. Schwarzenegger and deliberately designed to produce a low voter turnout and is an abuse of the initiative process."
Of speculation that he might jump into the governor's race, Beatty said: "I don't want to do it.... I don't want to run for governor."
In Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, Villaraigosa was the star of a union rally for opponents of the propositions. He and other stars of California's left, including Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and union activist Dolores Huerta, spoke to a crowd of mostly union workers.
A small clutch of Schwarzenegger fans cropped up at one point but were shouted down.
Villaraigosa said the propositions would hinder his ability to improve education, healthcare, traffic and public safety.
In Spanish, Villaraigosa told the crowd to vote "no" in support of working families -- "not the rich who are supporting these propositions."
Indeed, much of the rally was conducted in Spanish for the benefit of the largely Latino crowd. It was part of this week's broader attempt to turn Latinos against the governor's campaign, with opponents airing a Spanish-language ad that compared Schwarzenegger to former Gov. Pete Wilson, whose Proposition 187 would have denied public services to illegal immigrants.
Proposition supporters have made their own appeals to Latinos, with Spanish-language TV ads and an hourlong special scheduled Saturday on Univision in which Schwarzenegger will answer voters' questions.