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Schwarzenegger sorry for behaving 'badly' toward women

'I despise everything that the Nazis stood for'

Arnold Schwarzenegger at a San Diego rally kicking off his bus tour Thursday:
Arnold Schwarzenegger at a San Diego rally kicking off his bus tour Thursday: "To those people that I offended I want to say that I am deeply sorry and I apologize."

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Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Recall

SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Hours after accepting responsibility for allegations of sexual misconduct printed in a Los Angeles Times article, Republican gubernatorial front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger disputed the allegations, saying, "Most of it is not true."

Schwarzenegger, vying to replace California Gov. Gray Davis during the recall election Tuesday, said he doesn't remember the alleged incidents, which occurred between three and 30 years ago.

"I don't remember things that I've done or said 20 years ago. I don't remember things that I've done 30 years ago. And I said that many of the things that are in there are not true because that's not my behavior," he told reporters late Thursday afternoon before a gubernatorial recall campaign rally at a San Bernardino elementary school.

"And then other things may be true, and in case it is, that's why I said I want to apologize if I offended anyone, because that was not my intention."

Schwarzenegger also suggested that the timing of the allegations was politically motivated -- though he stopped short of accusing rival campaigns of engineering the story. The allegations were published Thursday in a front-page article in the Los Angeles Times, just five days before the October 7 recall election.

Earlier in the day, Schwarzenegger said he had "behaved badly" in the past and apologized to anyone he offended.

Thursday evening he also responded to questions surrounding comments he allegedly made in the 1970s to a film producer working on a book proposal in which Schwarzenegger reportedly expressed his admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

"I hated the regime -- hate the regime, the Third Reich, the whole Nazi philosophy -- have always fought against it," Schwarzenegger said.

"I despise everything that the Nazis stood for or Hitler stood for."

The story, published in Thursday's New York Times, chronicles a book proposal in 1975 by film producer George Butler in which Schwarzenegger reportedly expressed his admiration for Hitler.

According to the Times, the Butler book proposal quoted Schwarzenegger as saying, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

On Friday, the online edition of the Times reported Butler -- having checked through a second transcript of the interview -- had found different wording.

"I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on. But I didn't admire him for what he did with it," the quote read, according to Butler.

Peter Davis, who conducted the interviews for the documentary, told the newspaper that "the excerpt had been taken out of context ... and that Mr. Schwarzenegger had gone on to say that he had changed his views on Hitler as he grew up in Austria."

Schwarzenegger told reporters he has raised millions of dollars for the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- a Jewish organization that works to preserve the memory of the Holocaust -- to fight prejudice.

In a CNN interview from August, the center's founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier defended Schwarzenegger, saying he has done more to further the cause of Holocaust awareness than any other movie star.

"I've known him for 24 years ... and he's ... never demonstrated any bigotry and anti-Semitism. To the contrary, he's stood up for tolerance," Hier said.

Davis leaves Schwarzenegger allegations to the voters

Voters will decide Tuesday whether to recall Davis, a Democrat, and, in a second part of the ballot, pick a replacement from 135 names if the recall is approved.

Asked about the allegations against Schwarzenegger during an appearance in Santa Monica, Davis refused to give his personal reaction. He said he would leave it up to the voters of California to decide how much weight to give the allegations.

"Anything I would say would be superfluous," said Davis, who in recent days has cast the recall race as a battle between himself and Schwarzenegger.

But Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, slipping behind Schwarzenegger in recent polls, was not reticent in embracing the controversy. Speaking to reporters, he even read aloud the California Penal Code's definition of sexual battery.

"It is more than just boorish behavior," he said. "These multiple allegations by these women, I believe, will dog Arnold and make him less effective in dealing with the issues that are confronting California. ...

"Women cannot be approached like that in the workplace. It's absolutely wrong," he said. "If there are women who are coming forward with these allegations, they should be resolved."

Earlier Thursday, Schwarzenegger said some of the accusations made against him were not true, but did not clarify which. His campaign issued a statement saying the story represented "a desperate attempt by Democrats so close to the election" to smear him.

The newspaper said its report was not prompted by information from rival campaigns. ABC's "Good Morning America" also reported Thursday that it had learned similar information without the help of any campaign operatives.

Six women alleged that Schwarzenegger touched them in a sexual manner without their consent, according to the newspaper. The alleged acts date back to the 1970s, and the latest was in 2000. The newspaper contacted the women in the course of a seven-week investigation. None of the women approached the newspaper, the Times said.

Two of the six women in the Times report were identified; the other four requested anonymity, saying they feared retaliation. None of the women filed legal action against Schwarzenegger. None alleged that they were raped.

Three of the women said Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts; another said he reached under her skirt and grabbed her buttocks. The fifth woman said he groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in an elevator. The sixth charged that he pulled her on his lap and asked whether anyone had performed a certain sexual act on her.

One of the unidentified women told the newspaper that after Schwarzenegger touched her breast on a Santa Monica street in 1980, she made it clear that she didn't consider it playful.

She told the Times that she told him, "If I was a man, I would bust your jaw." Schwarzenegger, she said, just laughed.

Schwarzenegger has been dogged throughout the campaign by allegations that he mistreats women, prompting some women's groups to protest at his appearances. He has denied being a misogynist, and his wife, TV newswoman Maria Shriver, also has defended him against charges that he treats women badly.

A spokeswoman for Shriver said she would not comment on the latest allegations. She planned to continue campaigning for her husband, though she was not planning to join him on a four-day bus tour that started Thursday, the spokeswoman said.

-- CNN correspondents Frank Buckley and Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.

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