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Maria Shriver defends husband Schwarzenegger

Maria Shriver, wife of California gubernatiorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking in Newport Beach, California Friday.
Maria Shriver, wife of California gubernatiorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking in Newport Beach, California Friday.

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NEWPORT BEACH, California (CNN) -- A day after Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct with women, his wife, Maria Shriver, defended him as an "A-plus human being" and said his blanket apology to any women he offended was "courageous."

"You can listen to all the negativity, and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, or who met him for five seconds 30 years ago. Or you can listen to me," she said in a speech to a Republican women's group in Orange County.

"I wouldn't be standing here if this man weren't an A-plus human being. I wouldn't be taking my time, I wouldn't have left my job that I love, I wouldn't be doing any of this if I didn't believe in this man."

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Shriver described her husband of 17 years as "an extraordinary man" and took issue with the characterization that he behaves boorishly towards women.

"He's honest, he's sensitive, he's sincere. And he is gracious with every bone in his body," she said. "I have met thousands and thousands of women who have come up to me and said they have worked with him, they have worked for him, alongside [him] and he has been an extraordinary gentleman."

She also said she thinks it took "tremendous courage to stand up and say, 'I'm sorry if I offended anybody. I apologize. That was not my intention.'"

Shriver said she was not personally hurt by the allegations.

"Nothing hurts, because I know the man that I'm married to," she said. "Has he said and done everything absolutely [right] 100 percent of the time? No. But I don't know anybody on the planet, male or female, who's led a perfect life. ...

"I think it's really important to understand who Arnold is today, and I think it's taken great courage on his part to get into this race."

Shriver refused to discuss the details of a Los Angeles Times story in which six women alleged that Schwarzenegger groped them over the course of three decades, saying her husband's statement on the matter spoke for itself.

"I'm not going to go down this road, because I don't believe in gutter politics, and I don't believe in gutter journalism. So I think you can keep asking me that question, but you're not going to get a response from me because I believe in taking the high road," she said.

Shriver, who took a leave of absence from her job as an NBC News correspondent to join Schwarzenegger's campaign for governor, also did not address the sexual misconduct allegations directly in her speech, although she alluded to them in one aside.

"There are so many things that have gotten my back up with this campaign, but that's another speech and another story," she said.

Shriver, a member of the Democratic Kennedy clan, extolled the virtues of her Republican husband, calling him an optimistic, compassionate self-made man with vision and determination who can turn things around in the Golden State.

"He is everything that California is -- smart, innovate, disciplined, determined. He has the can-do spirit of this state," she said.

She also said that her husband is not affected by negative stories written about him.

"One of the other things I've always and continue to admire about Arnold is that he never worries about what other people say about him," she said.

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