Schwarzenegger, Bustamante fend off criticism
Aug. 29, 2003 07:50 AM
FRESNO, Calif. - Arnold Schwarzenegger swept through the hometown of leading
Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante while both recall
replacement candidates fended off criticism for ties to controversial groups.
Schwarzenegger was called on by the League of United Latin American Citizens,
the nation's oldest Hispanic civil rights group, to resign from the advisory
board of U.S. English, which seeks to make English the official language of the
United States. The Austrian-born actor refused.
Meanwhile Bustamante, the state's Democratic lieutenant governor, shrugged off
criticism of his affiliation in the 1970s with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de
Aztlan, or MeCHA, a Chicano student activist group. The state's highest ranking
Hispanic, instead, pounced on an issue dear to his constituents - gasoline
Schwarzenegger was stumping Thursday in the Central Valley, a region that votes
Republican but has a large Democrat-leaning Hispanic population and is home to
Bustamante, the state's highest ranking Hispanic.
"So many of us support bilingualism and bilingual education and maintaining our
culture and he's essentially saying it's not valid by being part of this board
that has got this whole anti-immigrant, underlying racist mentality," said the
league's Gabriela Lemus.
The league said it is not taking a position on whether Gov. Gray Davis should be
recalled and will not endorse a replacement candidate.
Said Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh: "Arnold Schwarzenegger came to this
country with a few dollars in his pocket and not speaking the
English language, and he realized the importance of learning to speak English as
quickly as possible to achieve your American dreams."
Bustamante, who leads Schwarzenegger in the latest polls, compared today's
members of MeCHA to those when he was a student at California
State University, Fresno. Critics claim the group holds extreme separatist
positions, including the belief that much of the Southwest rightfully belongs
"The students who are MeCHA today are just like the students when I was there,"
Bustamante said. "Pretty much they are trying to get an education.
Most of the friends I went to school with are now either graduates from college
or raising families."
Bustamante devoted much of his energy Thursday reminding voters they will be
paying the highest gasoline prices over the Labor Day weekend. He
accused the oil companies of price-gouging and vowed to bring the industry under
state regulatory control.
"Californians are being gouged," Bustamante said, "and under current law we are
powerless to do anything about it."
Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, also on the Oct. 7 special
election ballot, visited San Diego for the first of several scheduled town
hall-style meetings with voters. Ueberroth told about 75 people that if elected
he would convene a special legislative session on his first day in office to
address the state's budget problems and would ask lawmakers to place a measure
on the March ballot asking voters for a constitutional amendment to impose
spending caps. The spending limits would be tied to inflation and population
"I'm going to be a mad dog chasing a meat truck to make sure we get spending in
line and get jobs back in the state," he said.
Also on Thursday:
• Campaign finance records show Gov. Gray Davis is topping the field of
candidates in the recall money chase with Arnold Schwarzenegger close
behind. Davis has raised $4.2 million, about $1 million more than
Schwarzenegger. Bustamante has raised about $500,000 plus another $200,000 from
a public employee union to his lieutenant governor's committee, which can be
used for his governor's campaign.
• The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would hear a challenge Sept. 11
by the American Civil Liberties Union to review an ACLU lawsuit
alleging that punch-card voting machines used in at least six counties won't
accurately tally votes.
• State Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres said the organization would vote
Sept. 13 whether to endorse a replacement candidate, a change from
its strategy of only opposing the recall.
• Schwarzenegger won the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association,
the group that led the 1978 fight for anti-property-tax
• The California Nations Indian Gaming Association, the state's largest tribal
gaming organization met in Sacramento with Davis, Bustamante and
McClintock, but made no endorsements.