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CNN LIVE TODAY

Interview With Gary Coleman

Aired August 8, 2003 - 11:03   ET

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

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well you know all about Arnold. But several other celebrity candidates are catching recall fever as well. They may be short on experience, but they're big on name recognition as well.
Former child star Gary Coleman is one of them who's off and running for governor and he joins us from Los Angeles this morning. Good to see you, Gary.

GARY COLEMAN, CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Good morning. How are you?

WHITFIELD: I'm doing pretty good. First and foremost, why have you thrown your hat into the ring? Why are you running?

COLEMAN: Oh, well I'm not -- see, that's the -- that's the problem. I'm not actually campaigning. There's no giant war chest, there's no campaign manager, there's no press secretary, none of that stuff.

I'm just somebody with good ideas who was nominated by a small paper in San Francisco, "The East Bay Express." They said they wanted me to run to put some fun into this thing. So I said, Well, since you put it that way OK. I'll run.

So I'm not actually kissing babies or handing out cigars.

WHITFIELD: You don't want to be taking this seriously, but people say you have good ideas. What kind of good ideas do you have that you think any candidate should have?

COLEMAN: Well, if I can get next to Arnold Schwarzenegger I would tell him I think that because there's so many people in California, if you have a flat tax, and you have all the people pay 25 bucks a month, that's 30 million people paying 25 bucks a month for a health care. Just get out your calculator and just imagine -- excuse me -- what kind of money that is.

And if you have a flat tax, that would entice businesses to come back here. Gee, you might even get Ford or Chevrolet to build a car plant here.

WHITFIELD: So these are some ideas that you want to convey to the general populous there in California, and perhaps even to your candidate of choice. And even though you kind of have thrown your hat in the ring, you kind of are running, but you're not really...

COLEMAN: Not really running. WHITFIELD: You might be throwing your support to Arnold Schwarzenegger?

COLEMAN: Oh absolutely.

WHITFIELD: And so you're passing on some of these ideas to him? Are you really...

COLEMAN: I would hope to.

WHITFIELD: ... hoping that he might, if elected, bring you on to his team?

COLEMAN: You know, that would probably be the coolest thing, because I think between the two of us, we probably have a lot of great ideas that would make California the great and prominent state that it used to be.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well aren't you also concerned, however, though, that there are an awful lot of folks who are calling this California race a real circus? And so in all seriousness it might diminish the importance of this race by so many people throwing their support into this race or at least tossing in their names as being candidates?

I mean we just heard from that one report we're talking about almost now 40 candidates that may be on the ballot? Or at least they're saying that they're somehow running?

COLEMAN: Well, I mean it's not fair that Italy has all the fun with their politics.

I think that what's going on in California, as far as my participation in the election process, is just unique to the state. I mean, I'm actually surprised this has never happened before.

And I think it's just a large cooperative front to try to get Gray Davis out of office because Dilution could be a good thing.

WHITFIELD: So it sounds like in your opinion it doesn't matter who is in office as long as it's not Gray Davis. Is that what I'm hearing from you?

COLEMAN: Exactly.

And I'm hoping also, too, the person that does end in office, which, of course, we all know, I mean in reality is going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But if it's not him, as long as they're qualified and have a good heart and a great mind and fantastic advisers, there's no reason the state can't be turned around within the first 18 months...

WHITFIELD: All right.

COLEMAN: ... after that candidate gets into office. WHITFIELD: All right, Gary Coleman, thanks for joining us and thanks being a good sport, and, as you say, adding a little fun to this campaigning...

COLEMAN: A little fun to the run.

WHITFIELD: ... of a new governor -- or a governor, rather, of California. All right, thanks a lot. Good to see you, Gary.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

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