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Arnold Schwarzenegger Files Papers For Governor Candidacy

Aired August 9, 2003 - 19:35   ET


FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello I'm Fredericka Whitfield at the CNN center. More of IN THE MONEY in just a moment, but first, this is the day for candidates to get serious in the California recall aimed at unseating California Governor Gray Davis. The deadline is just a few hours from now of hundreds of candidates, something like 680 candidates. Fewer than 10 percent, about 60, have actually paid the fee so far.
You are looking at the scene right outside of one of the county office building in California in nor walk. There it's expected any moment now, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be driving up, and will be handing off his paperwork and making it official and paying that $3,500 filing fee. Making it official that he is officially in the race, and our Bob Franken is among the crush of reporters, the fans, and even photographers there all awaiting the arrival, Bob, can you describe the scene for us there.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well good timing, by the way, Fredericka. His entourage is just pulling up, his little motorcade, and you can tell by the squeals that there are a few hundred people here waiting for quite a while to greet him, to say nothing of the gaggle of media who are all being tightly controlled by the heavy security. Dozens of sheriff's deputies.

Of course, the Arnold does have his own private security force and a large group of public relations people all making sure that this event is well choreographed. This event, of course, is where he officially declares that he is going to be a candidate to replace Governor Gray Davis, if in fact, there is a recall.

As you can see, Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting out of his car befitting the reception a movie star would get movie star/candidate. Of course, he is not the first movie start who has run for office here. As you can see he is with his wife, Maria Shriver who has taken a leave of absence as an NBC reporter. Arnold is doing what the Arnold, as they call him here -- Schwarzenegger is doing what anybody does, stops and talks to his fans, nods to the cameras.

He doesn't take questions. He turns back. Faces an Ariana for Govenor sign. That would be Ariana Huffington, the columnist, who's also decided to enter that what many are calling this carnival. Of course, this is uniquely Californian. So in many ways, not the least of which, is just the fact that this could happen. This is not only state, but certainly one that has the world's fifth largest economy, to have a mechanism like this where just anybody could plunk down $3,500 and get 65 signatures can run for reelection like this and be the replacement candidate. And by the way, oh there is Ariana Huffington now deciding she would show up, and perhaps take advantage of the fact that there would be plent of cameras here. I should point out that Arianna Huffington and Arnold Schwarzenegger are sort of run around in the same circles, they attend each other's parties. So this is going to be a meeting of the Hollywood elite running here.

As I said, Arnold Schwarzenegger is going in to pay his $3,500, and come up with his 65 signatures. We have it on very good authority that he's able to afford the $3,500. As a matter of fact we have it on god authority that he's going to spend millions upon millions of his own money, and it's going to be a real bonanza of those television stations that are going to be taking all the advertising that's going to be happening. We are talking about a $50 or 60 million campaign in California which, of course, is such a media market, the entire state is. $50 or 60 millions after all is said and done. Money that's going to be coming from the Gray Davis efforts to stop the recall, and organized labor on the Democrat side and Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be running. There will be other candidates as we pointed out Ariana Huffington is going to be one of the them.

The columnist and political gadfly, she is going to be joined by Bill Simon, the guy who ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger -- excuse me ran against Gray Davis and got beaten. Some people say that that is going to be a grudge match. Peter Ueberroth is going to be getting into the race. Peter Ueberroth, of course, the organizer of the Los Angeles olympics, and the former baseball commissioner. One of the columnists talked about the fact that he was going, gasp, run a substantive campaign, which people say you don't do that in California you rely on television adds and the like.

Arnold schwarzenegger has avoided just about all discussions thus far of substance. He has been criticized for that a little bit. He has not taken questions on the various issues saying he will have the various answers on that, as time develops. Well there isn't a lot of time. So there's about two months until the elections in October 7.

If it continues like this, it's going to be an election campaign circus. Whatever you want to call it. But we are talking about, as I said, the state that has the fifth largest economy in the world. A state that is on the ropes economically. There are serious enviornmental problems. There are a variety of issues that have brought people to the point of that the current Govenor Gray Davis, according to the polls is disliked by about 75 percent, about three- quarters of the voters dislike him. So he needs to turn things around and somehow get 51 percent of the voters to vote against the recall. If they do not. One of the people who is going to be on the ballot, and there can be dozens, and dozens, of them, one of them will win with whatever is the largest number of votes. In other words, while Gray Davis needs 50 plus percent of the vote to win his election anybody else just needs a small plurality.

It's an interesting race, full of inequities. A lot of it is still in the court. You see me turn around on occassion to watch the gaggels that develop, right now there is one surrounding Ariana Huffington. As well known as she is, she's not considered the majorest of candidates. The one who is the majorest of candidates is, to use California talk, the Arnold. Now I will turn it back to the Fredricka.

WHIFIELD: Thanks from the Bob. Bob, I'm going to have you hold on a moment because while we are now seeing that videotape once, again. To remind our viewers that are just tuning that just happened just moments ago of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver, a journalist who has taken a leave of absence during this campaigning. And a shot of Ariana Huffington also walking in.

So presumably, right now Bob, they have made their way through the crush of reporters. They're now inside filing their papers. Any idea how about how long it takes? Obviously there's no longline inside for this.

FRANKEN: Well, it shouldn't take very long. What we are hoping is that soon we'll get the word that he's going to come down and talk to reports again and get 1 or 2 questions about issues of substance perhaps and see if there's any better result this time. Right now, he's inside, as you said, at the desk, taking care of that.

And so you know, even that is being covered that by a pool of reports. That's something that used to be uniquely Washington, but it's not now. And this has got all of the characteristics of one of those big press crush events that you find in Washington, D.C., but, of course, in recent years there have been any number of them out here. So, this is one of those summer time events and that is, is that another actor is getting into the political arena here.

Of course, California has quite the tradition of actors turning successful politicians. You have Ronald Reagan, who became president of the United States, but first as an actor, ran for govenor and won that race. George Muphy, was a U.S. senator in the state. And any number of others, who are members of congress and hold other high positions here, most of them interestingly Republicans, but we were trying to figure out that most of the people who are active celebrities who did run for public office were Republicans, in spite of the fact that this is a Democratic state.

You saw, by the way, someone walking in front of the camera, which is a good illustration of how crowded it is here.

In any case, this is a state that is highly Democratic. It has a Democratic govenor, but it also has huge problems, now. And that Democratic govenor is very, very unpopular in this state. But still, the Democrats are going to go out there and say that the Republicans are trying to steal this election. Remember all that when the time comes for a recall.

The Democrats on the one hand are saying that we are against the recall. We want Gray Davis to stay in office, but we're going to put up somebody else too. And they're trying to rally around the Lieutenant Govenor Cruz Bustamonte. There is another big vote getter in this state, John Gremonde (ph) who is the state insurrence commissioner. He too is running, but not with the blessings, so far, of the party leaders. The Democratic party leaders are going to try and get together and try and get some chaos -- order out of the chaos. But you know the Democrats, as Will Rogers once said, I don't belong to an organized political party, I'm a Democrat. And they're showing themselves to be living up to that reputation as things go along.

Meanwhile, there are candidates coming all over the map. We not only have the former Austrian weight lifter, turned actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we have some people who are more involved in some of the movie lands more, how shall I say it, exotic endevors. We'll have to leave that right there. We also have certain magazine publisher, who is into the more exotic realm of publishing as you well know. I'm thinking about Larry Flynt. And as I said there are some people who are recognized for their substance. Bill Simon, who ran against Gray Davis the last time around, got beaten in what was a brutal campaign.

WHITFIELD: But few of them Bob, are exepected to be filing their papers there. So can we describe a little bit of this scene. I don't know if, perhaps the person on your camera is able to kind of pan around to show us the division of, you got reporters on one side, and it looks like fans on the other.

FRANKEN: We have fans behind one fence, in effect, carrying a variety of signs, and most of the signs you are seeing right now say "Ariana for Govenor". Ariana Huffington, of course, is the one who they are refering to. And then you have the reporters behind another barricade, so to speak, aparently it was quite chaotic here the other day when they didn't have such an organization for tucking one of the still photographers in the corner is nodding his head emphatically, yes.

In any case, right now we do have this control situation as you can see. We have certain people who are sort of ignoring the fact that there is a camera operating right now, but we're waiting for some of the people to show up. We're waiting for Arnold Schwarzenegger to come to the mike, as I said. And Perry, intrust, with reporters a little bit right now...

WHITFIELD: I know Bob you're dodging a...

FRANKEN: ...corner talking. And we'll send it back to you Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: OK, thanks, Bob. I know you're dodging a lot of bullets out there. All kinds of hurddles to get the story on this. And Arnold Schwarzenegger, the candidate, officially now in just about a couple of minutes, actually, after he's officially filed those papers. Expected to emerge from that county building, and it's expected that he'll be making some comments to the cameras there, and we'll be bringing you that now as it happens.

For now, I'm Fredericka Whitfield, in Atlanta. We'll be right back.


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