Clinton Goes To Bat For Davis

Bill Clinton, Gray Davis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger over a U.S. Flag
Former President Clinton, drawing on his own experience facing down an effort to drive him from office, is advising California Gov. Gray Davis on how to survive the looming recall vote, a newspaper reports.

The New York Times reports Mr. Clinton and Davis began conferring last week at the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago and speak regularly, sometimes for as long as an hour. Mr. Clinton is apparently willing to campaign for Davis and may appear in California next month.

According to a witness who spoke with The Times, Mr. Clinton has told the governor: "You continue to do the job, and you continue to tell people that you are doing the job."

According to The Times, the embattled governor has adopted a strategy that mirrors the one employed by the former president during the impeachment fight.

Mr. Clinton took a business-as-usual approach, and so is Davis. The governor has busily signed bills and appointed judges since the recall was announced.

Mr. Clinton also made the impeachment effort, not his rivals, the issue. Likewise, Davis is planning to put the confusion and uncertainty of the recall in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger has reshuffled his campaign staff because he and his wife, Maria Shriver, are reportedly unhappy with the way the actor's campaign was launched.

Davis' chief rival, Schwarzenegger, has demoted top strategist George Gorton and elevated several aides to former Gov. Pete Wilson.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the moves come because the actor and Shriver, who has taken a major role in the campaign, were upset about his debut last week.

Schwarzenegger appeared on several morning news shows on only a few hours sleep and failed to give detailed answers to policy questions, opening him up to criticism. Those skeptical voices were amplified by a report Tuesday that Schwarzenegger had voted in only six of the last 11 statewide elections.

On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger could learn exactly how many opponents will share the Oct. 7 ballot with thim, as state elections officials were expected to certify who has qualified from a pool of 247 candidates.

Altogether, 247 Californians submitted $3,500 and 65 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

According to a tally released Tuesday, more Democrats than Republicans have filed candidacy papers. Ninety-five of the 247 are listed as Democrats, the secretary of state's office said. Seventy-seven are listed as Republicans, 58 as independents, six Green Party members, four Libertarians, three American Independents, two Natural Law Party members and two Peace and Freedom candidates.

Of the candidates, 115 have been completed for certification and the rest were being reviewed, according to the secretary of state's Web site.

The wide field has contributed to a zany atmosphere.

One of the would-be candidates, comedian Gallagher, got booted off Washington Post premises Tuesday in the nation's capitol after showing up at the newspaper carrying a large cardboard box of dirty clothes and loudly promoting his gubernatorial bid.

The green party's Ralph Nader took a pie in the face Tuesday as he endorsed his party's candidate in the recall race.

One candidate, a man named Bob Dole who is not the former Kansas senator, told the CBS News Early Show he's running because "there's an opportunity here. The door is open and I feel I can do the job, so I thought why not?"

Candidate Georgy Russell told Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith he wants to lead the Golden State because he is "committed to turning what has become representative government for the rich and by the rich into what should be representative democracy."

Russell has a website where one can buy mugs, coffee mugs and also a thong. "I have raised all the $3,500 filing fee, plus some," he said.

Actor Gary Coleman told Smith he supported a consolidation plan for water and power services and creating a more business-friendly climate by lowering the income and sales taxes.

"I'm not going on the stump," Coleman said. "This is below grass roots level. It's just me. There's no staff. There's no campaign. It's just me."

Also running is Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only other major Democrat in the race. There are four well-known Republicans — state Sen. Tom McClintock, a two-time GOP nominee for state controller; businessman Bill Simon, the party's 2002 nominee for governor; Schwarzenegger; and former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

So far, the frenzy has helped drop Davis even further in the polls, which have recently gauged support for the recall at well above the 50 percent needed to oust him.

Although past races have earned Davis his reputation as an aggressive campaigner, advisers say he'll fight the recall election with a strategy based on trying to fly above the circus swirling below.

"He's the only guy in the campaign that has the office and the only one who really understands how destabilizing this is," said Davis media consultant David Doak. "He's determined to project an image of stability, that things are under control and at the same time, fight for his job."

Some Democratic leaders also believe Davis' survival depends on him retaining his traditional base of support among big labor and liberal urban voters.