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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

California Gubernatorial Candidates Minus Schwarzenegger Get Ready to Debate

Aired September 2, 2003 - 19:10   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Some of the people who want to be California's next governor are getting ready for a debate tomorrow. Now, that number does not include the best known candidate in the race, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who says his schedule won't let him make Wednesday's event.
Schwarzenegger has announced he will only attend one single debate, The California Broadcaster's Association on September 17.

Kelly Wallace is out west following the race. Why is Arnold Schwarzenegger attending only this one particular debate?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaign aides say they have received numerous offers for debates and that they can't participate in all of them.

They say they chose this California Broadcasters Association debate because they feel this organization has the best track record when it comes to organizing and carrying out gubernatorial debates.

What the campaign didn't stress, though, and something we learned today is this is the only debate where Mr. Schwarzenegger and the other candidates will receive the questions one week in advance.

Now, Schwarzenegger's aides adamantly deny that the candidate chose this debate for this reason. Again, they say the California Broadcasters Association has done well when it comes to debates in the past.

But Anderson, you can bet and we're already hearing a little bit, talking to sources on the phone, that some of these other candidates who will be out tomorrow night, might make an issue of this. Said one of those candidates on the phones or one of his aides, Tom McClintock, an aide to him, said Arnold Schwarzenegger is good when he can prepare a script -- Anderson.

COOPER: I don't think I've ever heard of a debate where you get the questions in advance. I suppose -- I mean, you said it's already sort of becoming an issue in the campaign. I guess a lot of people are going to suddenly say, "Why is Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly camera shy?"

WALLACE: Well, you know, and Anderson, you raise a good point. We should stress the California Broadcasters Association says that it has never done this before. But it also says it did not negotiate these ground rules with any of the candidates, including Mr. Schwarzenegger.

A spokesman for the group said the organization chose to do it this way to get away from what a spokesman said are the sound bytes you often get when candidates are caught off guard.

But you can be sure that those other candidates that will be out tomorrow night, I've been on the phone with some campaign aides, we asked if they're going to make an issue of this. They say they won't but when asked questions they will make it clear those candidates are there and they say Schwarzenegger is not -- Anderson.

COOPER: I've never heard anyone argue with a straight face that you don't canned answers -- that you get more canned answers by asking impromptu questions. But hey, what do I know?

All right, Kelly. Thanks very much.

WALLACE: It's California.

COOPER: Yes, I guess so. All right.

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