Calif. Voters Must Decide

California Recall Elections CBS

Today is election day in California and no matter what happens when the dust - and the chads - finally settle, it's unlikely to be boring and it's bound to make history.

The California gubernatorial recall election is seen by some as a travesty of our electoral system, and by others, as an example of democracy in action. Democrat Gov. Gray Davis hopes to hang on; Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and numerous other candidates are happy to serve if Davis goes down in defeat; and GOP candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping harassment allegations won't derail his own hopes.



CBSNews.com will provide up-to-the-minute election results throughout the evening.



On Monday, the last day of campaigning, Schwarzenegger campaigned in San Jose, Huntington Beach and San Bernardino. Davis appeared in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while Bustamante made his pitch to voters in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco.

A poll of 1,000 registered voters, conducted by Elway-McGuire Research for Knight Ridder from Wednesday through Saturday, found the percentage of people saying they would definitely vote to oust Davis dropped from 52 percent Wednesday to 44 percent Saturday. The poll had an overall margin of error of 3 percentage points, but the margin of error for individual days was not given.

The poll also showed Schwarzenegger's lead over Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to replace Davis narrowing slightly from an earlier survey.

The shift in support for the recall followed allegations from 15 women that Schwarzenegger had groped and verbally harassed them during encounters dating to the early 1970s and as recently as 2000.

Schwarzenegger, who has acknowledged and apologized for having "behaved badly" toward women in the past, blamed the allegations on last-minute dirty campaign tricks and said some of them are flatly untrue. He has not discussed most of the allegations specifically and said he won't until after the campaign.

"I can get into all of the specifics and find out what is really going on. But right now, I'm just really occupied with the campaign," he said Sunday during a broadcast interview.

In another broadcast interview he said he couldn't remember many details connected to allegations going back more than 15 years but said they could have been true.

"It doesn't make any sense to go through details here with you. What is important is that I cannot remember what was happening 20 years ago, 15 years ago. But some of the things sound like me, which I was the first one to come out and say, you know, some of the things could have happened, I want to apologize to the people if I have offended anyone because that was not my intention," he said.

"No one ever came to me in my life and said to me that I did anything, that said 'I don't want you to do that. You went over the line, Arnold.'"

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who began Monday at a rally in East Los Angeles, said he believed the sexual harassment allegations were hurting Schwarzenegger's campaign.

"I think this is a very serious situation that we have right now and, you know, one surprise after another with this guy. I think we've probably had one too many surprises," he said after addressing a rally of about 100 supporters, including Christine Chavez, the granddaughter of the late United Farmworkers union co-founder Cesar Chavez.

CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports Bustamante earlier made strong comments denouncing the alleged sexual harassment. "If it had been my daughter, it wouldn't have taken no campaign. It wouldn't have taken no campaign to resolve it because we would have resolved it up front and personal," he said.

On Monday, State Sen. Tom McClintock called on Schwarzenegger to withdraw from the race for governor if allegations of improper sexual advances prove to be true. Asked by reporters what he would tell Schwarzenegger, McClintock said, "If those allegations are true, you should drop out of the race."

McClintock was careful not to condemn Schwarzenegger out of hand, but made his feelings on the issue clear.

"If the allegations are true, and again coming as late as they are, I believe they need to be treated with great skepticism, that conduct is reprehensible," he said.

Hanretty didn't answer directly when asked if any of the women had lied. Instead, she accused the Los Angeles Times, which first broke the story of the allegations, of not investigating their claims thoroughly.

"Excuse me, but the L.A. Times failed to investigate a lot of these women," she said, adding that at least one of the women had contributed to independent candidate Arianna Huffington's campaign.

On Sunday, Davis demanded that Schwarzenegger give a full explanation of the allegations before Tuesday's vote, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, said the Republican actor should volunteer for a state investigation whether or not he is elected governor.

Lockyer also noted the one-year statute of limitations for sexual battery has expired on all the complaints.

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

Davis 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.

After one of the Schwarzenegger interview, 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."

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 CBS' 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."

The Knight Ridder poll that was completed Saturday showed Schwarzenegger leading Bustamante in the race to replace Davis by 36 percent to 29 percent. An earlier poll by the Field Research Corp. put his lead at 36 percent to 26 percent.

Although those definitely planning to vote to oust Davis had slipped to 44 percent, among overall voters surveyed the margin supporting the recall was still 54 percent.

Pollsters surveyed 1,000 registered voters, including 284 people on Wednesday and 200 on Saturday. The margin of error for individual days was not given.

  • Dan Collins

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