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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Who is Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Aired August 7, 2003 - 19:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In California today, the race is on. And just as he often does at the box office, Arnold Schwarzenegger is already leading the pack, and what a pack it is.
Here's CNN's Kelly Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looked like the Hollywood movie premiere, but this is an Arnold Schwarzenegger production unlike any other. The first-time political candidate picked up papers to formally enter California's unprecedented recall election.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is the next step in running for governor of California and to bring the government back to the people.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: With immediate name recognition and deep pockets, Schwarzenegger instantly becomes a leading challenger to the state's governor, Gray Davis. Davis was already facing a fierce battle to hold on to his job. Now he must confront Schwarzenegger's star appeal and a challenge of a different sort from his No. 2. The state's Hispanic lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, is tossing his hat into the ring, he says, reluctantly.

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D-CA), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's important that we have a serious Democrat on the ballot.

WALLACE: Davis had been urging Democrats not to enter the recall election, an election he says is an effort by the right wing to take back the statehouse, the governor speaking out for the first time since Schwarzenegger and his deputy entered the race.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Where all these other people are running for governor, I am the governor. I'm going to use my time to do the job as well as humanly possible.

WALLACE: This man hoped to take Davis' job. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa financed the petition drive which led to the recall. But with Schwarzenegger in the race, Issa emotionally dropped out.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: I should go back to the work that I wanted to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: With two days left to file, already more than 300 people have picked up the paperwork to fill out, including politicians, other actors, even a porn star. The October ballot is likely to be a long one, but this is looking more and more likely that it will be a showdown between Davis and Schwarzenegger -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kelly, any sense of how they are positioning themselves as they look forward to this race?

WALLACE: Well, people close to the Davis camp say one thing they're going to try and take advantage of is what they say is Schwarzenegger political inexperience. And they say there can be no comparisons to Ronald Reagan. Davis supporters say that Reagan had political experience, unlike Schwarzenegger, before moving from acting into running for governor.

As for Schwarzenegger, he's clearly making his strategy quite clear. He's focusing on a populist message, going to try and take that message all across the state, trying to take advantage of the anger in this state over the state's fiscal problems. But, Anderson, Schwarzenegger faces a challenge, too, because he's a moderate Republican with very liberal views on issues such as gay rights. He has to convince conservative Republicans he is their guy to be governor -- Anderson.

COOPER: I heard him make some statements on the steps of the building today, where he basically said -- and I think he repeated it several times -- it's clearly going to be sort of his mantra -- bring business back to California.

WALLACE: Bring businesses back. Exactly. He says that he has seen more and more businesses leave the state. And, Anderson, you heard him say he wants to clean up the statehouse and take the government back to the people. It is a very popular message.

But he is going to face lots of questions about, how will he do that? What will he do to fix the state's fiscal woes? His answer to that today, Anderson, is, he'll get back to reporters very soon with a plan to deal with the state budget -- Anderson.

COOPER: The devil is in the details.

Kelly Wallace, thanks very much from Los Angeles.

Now, of course, while Schwarzenegger is by far the most well- known candidate in this race, the Schwarzenegger that most people know is a fictional one, a Hollywood creation. So who is the man behind the movies?

Here's Thelma Gutierrez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the king of the action flicks, a shrewd businessman turned politician.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

SCHWARZENEGGER: I am going to run for governor of the state of California.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: In his bid to become governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what's coming his way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

SCHWARZENEGGER: I know they're going to throw everything at me. And they're going to say that I have no experience and that I'm a womanizer and I'm a terrible guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: Much has been made about his private life in the tabloids, including allegations about womanizing that he and some of his colleagues have denied. But they're sure to surface during the campaign.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think that, in politics, that's part of it. And it's a sad story that it's part of it.

GUTIERREZ: Uncomfortable, perhaps, but not a battle the Austrian immigrant hasn't fought before.

RABBI MARVIN HEIR, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: He told me that it's really important to him to find out the truth about his father, what his father did during the Second World War.

GUTIERREZ: Gustav Schwarzenegger, Arnold's father, was a member of the Nazi Party.

HEIR: The reason that he wanted to know about his father's past is because he felt bad about it, not because he was sort of proud of it.

GUTIERREZ: The information about Schwarzenegger's father was uncovered by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, an investigation requested by the actor himself back in 1990.

HEIR: I've known him for, as I said, more than 24 years. And he has never demonstrated any kind of bigotry or anti-Semitism. On the contrary, he stood up for tolerance.

GUTIERREZ: Since then, the Rabbi Marvin Heir says the actor has done more to further the cause of the Holocaust awareness than any other Hollywood star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was absolutely critical and very smart to do what Arnold Schwarzenegger did.

GUTIERREZ: Political science professor Sherry Bevich (ph) says dealing with his family's past years ago will benefit him now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is critical is, he did all of this before it became public that he was moving into a political career. So he didn't look like an opportunist.

GUTIERREZ: So, at least on one front, Schwarzenegger laid to rest questions about his father's past before it could come back to haunt him. It remains to be seen how he will handle other political and personal curveballs thrown his way.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, let's put this in perspective for just a moment. Governor Gray Davis is expected to raise $20 million to fight the recall. That is $10 million less than the $30 million or so that Arnold Schwarzenegger earned from making "Terminator 3." No word on how much Schwarzenegger will spend on this race.

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