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Arnold Prepares For New Role

Arnold Schwarzenegger speech news conference
CBS
On his first full day as governor elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed confidence that he would make a seamless transition to the governor's office, but provided no new specifics on how he plans to cure California's ills.

In a news conference at a Los Angeles hotel, Schwarzenegger repeated many themes from the campaign trail, including a pledge to repeal the recent tripling of the car tax and a call to "open up the books" in search of a solution to the state's gaping deficit. He also promised again not to raise taxes.

"What we have to do is, open up the books ... do the audit and find what the waste is," the action hero-turned-politician said.

In an interview with CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, Schwarzenegger dismissed talk of a recall of the recall effort.

He said he spoken to most of the state's Democratic leaders, "and everyone has assured me that they are really optimistic, and that they think we can work together. And they will do everything that they can to make sure that we work on behalf of the people. So, I don't think there will be any mean-spiritedness going on."

But Schwarzenegger added, "Maybe it's naive to think that."

Schwarzenegger said he was promised "a very smooth transition" by ousted Gov. Gray Davis, and he received similar assurances from other state leaders.

He also expressed confidence that California lawmakers would see the message voters delivered in Tuesday night's election and follow his leadership as he takes over the reins of the state.

"The legislators up there have gotten this message last night, that the people of California want change," he said.

Schwarzenegger said he had spoken with an array of leaders including Nelson Mandela of South Africa and President Bush, who he said promised to do "whatever is possible to help California."

"I'm looking forward to working with him and asking him for a lot, a lot of favors," Schwarzenegger said, adding that he hoped to meet with the president when he is in the state next week for fund-raisers.

Schwarzenegger said he would make sure the federal government helps California with such problems as energy and water.

The "Terminator" star said his focus will be on the problems facing California — not Hollywood.

"I will work as much as I can, even if it is around the clock," he said. "There will be no time for movies or anything else. I will pay full attention to this job."

The Republican actor will be sworn into the office by mid-November, becoming California's 38th governor.

Schwarzenegger's proposals will have to go through a Legislature controlled by Democrats angry over what some of them consider a hostile takeover of the state's top political job. And he will have to quickly deliver a budget that can close the giant deficit.

It is an unusually fast transition, particularly for a political neophyte who declared his candidacy just two months ago.

"The last 60 days has been pretty difficult as well, but I would say there's probably never been a governor elect who's stepped into a situation with the challenges he'll be confronting here in California. But that's why he wanted the job," spokesman Rob Stutzman said.

Schwarzenegger takes office as the Republican Party's lone statewide officeholder in a state where the congressional delegation and both houses of the Legislature are heavily Democratic.

And while the voters gave Schwarzenegger a resounding victory, they lean Democratic, too — 44 percent to 35 percent Republican.

"I think he's in for a rude awakening to the fact that he won't be able to get done all the things he has said because politics just doesn't work that way," said Fresno resident Don Lesher, 71, a registered Democrat who voted yes on the recall and for Republican Tom McClintock. "Unfortunately, everybody is voting along party lines, rather than what's best for the state."

Still, more voters supported Schwarzenegger, 3.6 million, than voted against recalling Davis, 3.5 million — an outcome Schwarzenegger aides touted as a mandate after weeks of predictions from Democrats that the winner might triumph with a small percentage of the vote.

"The fact that he got more votes than Gray Davis puts him in a position of strength," said Allan Hoffenblum, a GOP consultant. "There's going to be some Democrats up there who are going to want to play ball reasonably with Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Schwarzenegger's victory on Tuesday was so complete even the pundits were stunned, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Schwarzenegger had 3,743,431 votes, compared with 2,432,463 for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. On the recall question, 4,415,398 voters, or 55.4 percent, were in favor of ousting Davis, while 3,559,436, or 44.6 percent were opposed.

The Austrian-born actor won support from liberal Democrats, Latinos and women voters, 46 percent of whom voted for the actor despite last-minute sexual harassment charges.

"Women as well as men really knew what they were going to do long before they went into the polls yesterday," said Kathy Frankovic, director of the CBS News Election and Surveys Unit.

Bustamante, Schwarzenegger's only major Democratic opponent on the recall ballot, and other Democratic officeholders were quick to say they would work with the new governor. But they also said he needed to get to work on his plans.

"With the campaign now behind him, Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger has the obligation and responsibility to lay out how he will put our fiscal house in order and repair the economy, and it's going to be a tall order," state Treasurer Phil Angelides said, while pledging to do his "level best" to work with Schwarzenegger.

But even if lawmakers and voters grant him a honeymoon period, Schwarzenegger's toughest challenges may loom in the form of his own campaign-trail promises.

In glowing stump speeches and high-octane rallies, Schwarzenegger told voters fed up with years in which they endured the energy crisis, budget deficits, rising fees and partisan gridlock that he would clean up Sacramento, bring back jobs and restore luster to Sacramento.

"For the first time, we'll have somebody who will probably listen to the people and figure out what it is that has to be done, not the same old thing the way politics goes," said Jim Hall, 62, as he worked out at a health club in Camarillo. "Bring on Arnold. He'll fix it. Gray Davis is history."