Cal. Vote: Arnold Vs. Allegations

Actor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger shakes hands with supporters during a rally on the south steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Oct. 5, 2003. The event ended a four-day bus trip throughout the state. Schwarzenegger is running for governor in the October 7 recall election. AP

Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the last full day of campaigning for the governorship as a poll showed his support slipping and more women surfaced to accuse the actor of groping them.

Gov. Gray Davis said Schwarzenegger owes a full explanation before voters decide Tuesday whether to recall a sitting governor for only the second time in the nation's history.

Schwarzenegger, who continued to blame the scandal on political dirty tricks, said he wouldn't say anything more about sexual harassment claims, now made by a total of 15 women, until after the election.

"I can get into all of the specifics and find out what is really going on," he told NBC Sunday night. "But right now I'm just really occupied with the campaign."

With polls showing the race tightening, Davis told CNN Sunday that Schwarzenegger "is in sort of a free fall" and could be overtaken in the closing hours of the campaign.

Davis also used the power of incumbency to create news Sunday, signing a law making California the largest state to require employer-paid health care for an estimated nearly 1.1 million working Californians currently without job-based coverage.

Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, told CBS News' The Early Show on Monday that "the campaign is not losing momentum." She said the candidate's bus tour that wound up Sunday attracted thousands of supporters.

The Los Angeles Times reported that four additional women claimed Schwarzenegger touched them inappropriately. They included an unidentified 51-year-old woman who said Schwarzenegger pinned her to him and spanked her repeatedly three years ago at a West Los Angeles post-production studio.

Three other women named by the Times said Schwarzenegger fondled them in separate incidents outside a Venice gym in the mid- 1980s, at a bar in the late 1970s and on the set of the movie "Predator" in 1986.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh dismissed the accounts of three of the women, and said the actor had no recollection of the alleged gym incident. And Hanretty said the newspaper "did fail to investigate a lot of these women."

The Times has come under fire for publishing the allegations so close to election day, when Schwarzenegger was least able to refute them in time to salvage his chances in the vote.

Schwarzenegger did not address the allegations during a march to the state Capitol on Sunday. Davis "has terminated opportunities and now it's time to terminate him," Schwarzenegger said before addressing a Capitol rally crowd of nearly 5,000.

After the NBC segment aired, two of the women who claim Schwarzenegger harassed them, said they were upset the actor said some of the accounts were fictional.

"That incensed me," said Colette Brooks, who claims Schwarzenegger grabbed her buttocks when she was a 23-year-old intern at CNN in the early 1980s. "He's dodging any sort of culpability. He's dodging these allegations."

Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Schwarzenegger should volunteer for a state investigation, whether or not he is elected governor.

Lockyer noted the one-year statute of limitations for sexual battery has expired on all the complaints that have surfaced since the Times reported Thursday that several women claimed Schwarzenegger groped or sexually harassed them between 1975 and 2000.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman accused Lockyer of engaging in the sort of "puke politics" the attorney general had earlier warned Davis to avoid.

A Knight Ridder poll released late Saturday found support for recalling Davis might be slipping, although 54 percent favored removing him while 41 percent were opposed.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters, conducted by Elway-McGuire Research from Wednesday through Saturday, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The pollsters also found that the percentage of people saying they would definitely vote to oust Davis dropped from 52 percent Wednesday, a day before the allegations against Schwarzenegger began surfacing, to 44 percent Saturday. The poll surveyed 284 people on Wednesday and 200 on Saturday; the margin of error for each day's sample was not released.

But The San Francisco Chronicle notes that some 2 million absentee ballots were cast well before the allegations against Schwarzenegger surfaced and are likely to favor the recall more than polls suggest voters do now. To overcome that, the paper reports, the governor will need a very strong turnout.

The overall poll indicated Schwarzenegger ahead of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the leading Democrat among the replacement candidates, with 36 percent support to 29 percent.

A poll conducted Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 by the Field Research Corp. had found Schwarzenegger with a 10-point lead over Bustamante — 36 percent compared with 26 percent. That poll surveyed 465 likely voters and had a margin of sampling error of 5 percentage points.

Schwarzenegger told ABC that the harassment allegations and reports that he praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as a young man are "campaign trickery." He consistently stopped short of denying all of the women's accounts.

Schwarzenegger's leading Republican opponent, state Sen. Tom McClintock, called the allegations "very, very serious," but said they need to be treated "with a certain degree of skepticism because it's been brought up so late."

One of the women who claims she was inappropriately touched by Schwarzenegger more than 20 years ago is radio psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, who spoke to the Early Show.

Browne said that while she was interviewing Schwarzenegger, who was
promoting a book at the time, "he was sort of messing with my legs. I think it was more just trying to distract me."

Schwarzenegger left his American Express card behind and "demanded that bring it back," Browne said. She says she then went to his hotel room with her daughter in tow.

"When I knocked on the door to hand him the card, he had only a pair of very tight…blue jeans on, no socks, no shirt. He said, 'Come on in, lose the kid,'" Browne said. "I had told somebody about it off you know, off camera years ago and never said anything about it because, as I said, I thought it was stupid, not dangerous."
  • Dan Collins

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