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Crowley: Schwarzenegger's apology 'curious'

CNN's Candy Crowley
CNN's Candy Crowley

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(CNN) -- California recall campaign front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an apology Thursday in the wake of newly published allegations of sexual improprieties.

Schwarzenegger's comments followed a Los Angeles Times story published Thursday, five days before the October 7 gubernatorial recall election. The newspaper said it had interviewed six women who said the actor made unwelcome advances to them in incidents dating from the 1970s to as recently as 2000.

"Yes it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right that I thought were playful," Schwarzenegger said at a San Diego rally kicking off a four-day bus tour.

"I now recognize that I have offended people and to those people that I offended, I want to say that I am deeply sorry and I apologize," he said.

In the speech, Schwarzenegger vowed to be a "champion of women" if he is elected governor of California.

CNN's Carol Costello talked with senior political correspondent Candy Crowley about Schwarzenegger's response to the allegations in the newspaper report. The following is an edited transcript:

COSTELLO: What did [Schwarzenegger's statement] mean?

CROWLEY: It means they really would like to get this out of the way. I mean, one of the things you try to do when something comes up in a campaign is get rid of it as fast as possible, particularly when you're in the final week.

It was a curious statement: [he said] everything you see is not true, but then he went on to apologize. Rowdy movie set behavior, and then tossing it off to that.

Now, this may well be good enough for people who are inclined to support Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's certainly not going [to be] for those who are going to vote against him, as something that's going to come out in the polls. One of the interesting things of his campaign, and he, in fact, in that statement, talked about trash politics, seemed to blame the other side.

His aides were a lot more direct than Arnold Schwarzenegger was to guessing that Democrats put this story out. LA Times, of course, says that no rival of Arnold Schwarzenegger gave them the names of these women, and no woman came to find them. They went to find the women.

So it will be interesting. It does not seem to me to put it to rest simply because it seems like he said, "It is not true and I apologize." So I imagine it will come up once or twice along this tour.

There is one thing you can say about a Hollywood actor ... he knows how to put on a production. He left on his bus nicknamed "The Running Man." This, of course, being the California Comeback Tour that he will take from south to north in California, winding up in Sacramento on Sunday with a walk to the capitol steps.

So off to kind of a rocky start. Something you don't want to do when you are looking for rallying the troops, sort of upbeat thing, is to face this sort of in-depth story. We will see how it plays out in the next couple of days, Carol.

COSTELLO: Can you run down maybe just one allegation from one woman that's detailed in the LA Times?

CROWLEY: Yes. They had several stories. One, a woman who said that Arnold Schwarzenegger -- and I believe this was in a gym -- walked up to her and put his hand underneath her blouse and grabbed her breast. A lot of groping.

I mean, there was not -- the allegations, as one of the women pointed out in the Times, you know, he didn't rape her, but it was groping, sort of pulling someone down on his lap. Putting his hand up a woman's skirt was another of the allegations. And, again, some of these women had their names out there, let the Los Angeles Times use them.

And other women -- the Times went and talked to people that they talked to about the incident before Schwarzenegger started to run for governor. So there are six of these women. You know there have been these kinds of things out there before.

We saw the Oui magazine [article] sort of early on in the Schwarzenegger campaign, where he talked of group sex with a woman during his weightlifting career. He later said, "Well, I was trying to bring attention to the sport. So, you know, it's kind of 'yes, I did, I was young and foolish' sort of thing, followed by, 'but, no, I didn't do those things.' "

So, those are the allegations in the paper. We, again, have heard some of these rumors, but the Times put it all together in the course of seven weeks [of investigating].

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