Schwarzenegger vows 'people's takeover' of Sacramento
Actor skipping first debate of recall campaign
LONG BEACH, California (CNN) -- Gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, shaking off being the target of an egg-thrower, vowed Wednesday to lead a "people's takeover" of California's government, saying career politicians have left the state in a shambles.
Speaking in advance of a candidates' debate he has decided to skip, Schwarzenegger, a Republican, described his candidacy as a "movement for change."
"Help me send a message to Sacramento -- game is over," Schwarzenegger told the enthusiastic crowd at California State University in Long Beach. California voters will decide October 7 whether to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and who should replace him if he is ousted. The ballot will includes 135 names for voters to pick from.
As he arrived on campus, Schwarzenegger was greeted by a crowd of young supporters, but one apparent opponent pelted the actor with an egg. Schwarzenegger was not harmed. He later joked about the incident, saying he needed bacon to go with the egg and he dismissed the incident as part of "free speech."
The Austrian-born immigrant noted that he has made a fortune as an actor in the movies, and he credited California with providing him with that opportunity.
"Now, I want other people's dreams to come true," he said.
Schwarzenegger's speech was rich in one-liners and scarce in specifics. He promised to fix the state's economy without saying how and he vowed to improve the state's education system without providing any details.
He brushed aside criticism of the recall, saying it was not a "right-wing takeover" but an expression of the people's will. And he promised to work with Democrats if elected.
Waving his finger for emphasis, he described Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante -- the top Democrat in the recall race -- as cut from the same mold as the unpopular Davis.
"They are the twin terminators of Sacramento," Schwarzenegger, making a reference to his popular Terminator movies.
"I'm not afraid of the Democrats," he said. "Remember, I'm married to one." Schwarzenegger is married to television journalist Maria Shriver, a niece of President Kennedy.
Earlier, aides to Schwarzenegger announced they were seeking a change in the format of the September 24 debate -- the one debate that Schwarzenegger has said he will participate in. The aides proposed that the questions for that forum not be released in advance, but sponsors of the debate said the format was not open to negotiation.
Schwarzenegger has been under fire for limiting his appearances and not participating in Wednesday night's planned debate of five top candidates in Walnut Creek, California. Davis will address that forum.
Critics said Schwarzenegger only agreed to the September 24 debate because he would have the questions in advance, a charge his campaign has denied.
At a news conference following his speech, Schwarzenegger also returned to a controversial 1977 interview with an adult magazine in which he talked in graphic terms about group sex and drugs.
Asked about the interview, Schwarzenegger said he had no memory of the interview or of the incidents described in it.
He described the 1970s as "an outrageous decade" and suggested he said some of the things just for shock value. "I have the utmost respect for women," he said.
--Written by CNN.com Producer Sean Loughlin in Washington.