Just days before the California recall election, we speak with former gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington about the recent reports that have rocked Schwarzenegger’s campaign and why she is now urging voters to oppose the recall and keep Gov. Gray Davis in office. [Includes transcript]
Click here to read to full transcript Five days before the Oct. 7 California recall election, Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to deny comments he made 25 years ago that he admired Adolf Hitler and wished he too could enjoy a stadium full of screaming fans.
Schwarzenegger was quoted as making the comments in a 1975 transcript of an interview while filming the documentary "Pumping Iron" that made him famous.
ABC News, which broadcast the remarks on Thursday, said they were contained in an unpublished book proposal with quotes from what it calls a "verbatim transcript" of the interview.
Asked about his heroes, the young Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying; "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."
The transcript continues with Arnold saying he wished he could experience being "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium and have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."
The story came just hours after The Los Angeles Times reported the accusations of six women who accused Schwarzenegger of sexually harassing and groping them over the past three decades. The actor later apologized at the start of a statewide bus tour in San Diego and acknowledged that he had "behaved badly" to women. The tour-bus was unfortunately named Predator.
The feminist group Code Pink plans statewide protests today demanding that Schwarzenegger quit the race.
Californians by an increasingly wide margin want to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis with Schwarzenegger. This according to a Field Poll released today. This is the third this week to show the actor gaining momentum and Davis losing ground. However, voters were surveyed before the latest sexual allegations and reports of admiration for Hitler.
Two days ago, independent candidate Arianna Huffington dropped out of the recall election and is now urging voters to keep Davis in office. Huffington said, "It has become clear to me over the last 48 hours that the only way to stop a Republican takeover of California is to vote no on the recall. My supporters are very galvanized to stop Arnold Schwarzenegger."
- Arianna Huffington, writer and commentator who was running as an independent candidate in the California gubernatorial recall race. She is now urging voters to oppose the recall and keep Gov. Gray Davis in office.
AMY GOODMAN: Juan Gonzales is just joining us in the studio as well. We called Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign over and over and over again to have Schwarzenegger or someone representing him on the line. But they never got back to us.
Welcome Arianna Huffington.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us and also Juan, welcome.
Good day. That wasn’t Juan screaming it was his headphones.
Arianna Huffington, what is happening today?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, what is happening, Amy, is that for a while now it has become apparent that Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent millions of dollars building political persona which every day is at greater and greater odds with reality. The ADOLF Hitler comment of course is absolutely stunning. And the reports from different women through many years up to the year 2000 of behavior that is not just offensive but according to California’s penal code is illegal, has to be incredibly troubling especially the way it was handled, because you mentioned the apology, Amy but it all started with the denial in the L.A. Times by Schwarzenegger’s spokesman. Then they moved on to stage two which is blaming the democrats for spreading the allegation. Then it moved into rationalization saying things like the movie sets have Rowdy places and he was being playful. And the apology was very halfhearted and saying things and then after the formal speech that if these things have happened. He doesn’t remember. And finally the brush off telling reporters that it was time to move away from California’s dirty politics to address California’s future. But all that, Amy, comes on top of political contradictions. A man who claims that he will never raise taxes and promises to balance the budget, and repeal the car tax without ever telling us what kind of programs he would cut. So that manufactured persona is now beginning to crumble.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the reaction so far to your withdrawal from the race and impact that that’s having on the overall outcome?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, as I said last night there was an NBC debate here and I did the opening statement against the recall.
AMY GOODMAN: Is there, go ahead.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I’m campaigning up and down the state to address not those who have already decided to vote against the recall on grounds of an affront to democracy, I’m campaigning to appeal to the people who rallied around my campaign because they’re sick and tired of the current system, they’re sick and tired of Sacramento of public policy being sold to the highest bidder. And I’m appealing to them to recognize that right now there is a clear and present danger of a Schwarzenegger victory. And that in wanting to make things better and a feeling that I deeply share and longing because of which I entered the race in the first place, we may make things much, much worse if we don’t confront the harsh fact in front of us. And do the only thing right now that can stop Schwarzenegger which is defeating the recall.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of Schwarzenegger’s response to the "Los Angeles Times" report on how many women have come forward so far, six accused him of sexually harassing and groping them.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: As I said the response was really an attempt to damage control. I didn’t feel any real apology there, especially the way it was immediately contradicted in that Crawley interview. I think it’s very important for people to get the transcript that have because I watched it last night on CNN. And immediately you see the backtracking, I don’t remember what happened all those years ago. I don’t know how these things are true, I’m paraphrasing but that was the sentiment. So clearly this is purely political. Last night at the debate I was talking to people, what happened to republican family values? Only somehow come forward when they have to go AFTER a democrats like Bill Clinton say, and on issues of sexual morality.
AMY GOODMAN: the man who bank rolled the recall election.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: The republican Congressman from San Diego. Let me say something, though. There is a huge difference between consensual sex and outside marriage huge difference between infidelity and all those moral questions which I would argue don’t have a place in political discourse. Reports like this which are really about sexual harassment. And they’re not consensual. This is really what Schwarzenegger has to address today. At our press conference that we’re having here in Los Angeles today at 8:30 to release an ad that Move On has produced which is going to start airing today about Schwarzenegger and women, and this is the point that many of the women present, many of them lawyers, many of them involved in the feminist majority and other groups working on women’s issues, this is the point that they’re going to make.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I would assume that not only among women but also among as you mentioned conservative republicans who are very much see family values at major aspect how they view politics that this will give them some pause, those who might have deserted Mcclintock to vote for Schwarzenegger at the final hour might have some pause now these further revelations have come out.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Yes. I would have thought so. Although there is such a hunger at the moment to gain power which explains why republican establishment in a unprecedented move given that there’s another republican in the race who actually corresponds more on the social issues. Despite all that they really circled the wagons around Schwarzenegger, the republican groups around the state have endorsed him including county chairman. So I don’t know, I think frankly I have much more faith that progressives and independents, and moderate Democrats who have been fed up with the Gray Davis administration are going to recognize the danger at hand and come home in terms of voting against the recall. I much more optimistic that this will happen, than that republicans will abandon their one imminent chance of taking over the state.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, where do you believe the whole recall idea was hatched? Do you believe it was in California or in Washington?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I have no evidence that it was in Washington. There’s no question that the recall would not be on the ballot right now. I have said throughout the campaign that after Oct. 7th we need to look again at the recall provision and actually reform it so it is much harder to recall a sitting governor and even though I have said many many critical things against Gray Davis and I’m taking none of it back because I’m endorsing the anti-recall position. I’m endorsing it because I see the danger of Schwarzenegger and especially we have pages and pages of contributors to the Schwarzenegger campaign with a huge overlap between them and those who are funding the Bush reelection effort. They include big polluters, big developers, Agra business all the usual sort of corporate rule breakers. In terms of Washington, there is absolutely no question when you look at the people on his team that this is the Bush economic team. Whether it’s Brad Freeman who is Bush’s very close friend one of the early pioneers. All of them working for the Schwarzenegger campaign. A Schwarzenegger victory means a Bush victory. It means handing the state over to the republicans before the 2004 election. There’s no higher priority for anybody who cares about the country than defeating Bush in 2004. So first step unquestionably for me is defeating Schwarzenegger on Tuesday.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, on that note I want to thank you Arianna Huffington for being with us. Again we did call the Schwarzenegger campaign repeatedly to get a spokesperson on but they did not return our calls. You’re listening to Democracy Now!