- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2003

LOS ANGELES — Arnold Schwarzenegger is confident that accusations of sexual misconduct and charges that he once praised Adolf Hitler — criticism that his campaign chairman called “puke politics” — won’t slow the actor’s momentum in the California governor race.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s campaign aides said the candidate will no longer address charges published in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times that he groped and sexually harassed women during his 30-year career in Hollywood as a bodybuilder and movie star.

ABC News and the New York Times also reported Thursday that Mr. Schwarzenegger praised the leadership qualities of Hitler in the transcript of an unpublished manuscript about the candidate’s days as a bodybuilder in the 1970s.

“I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to George Butler, who produced the bodybuilding documentary “Pumping Iron.” “And I admire him for being such a good public speaker.”

However, Mr. Butler, backtracked from what he told the New York Times earlier Wednesday. A rechecking of his transcripts, he told the newspaper yesterday, revealed that the quote was taken out of context.

“I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on,” Mr. Butler said, recounting Mr. Schwarzenegger’s words. “But I didn’t admire him for what he did with it.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger decried the story about him, calling it “one of those things that if you come from that background, you get accused a lot of times of being that, of being a Nazi.”

Rep. David Dreier, California Republican and chairman of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s campaign, blamed Gov. Gray Davis and the state Democratic Party for the stories.

“Anything that comes out negative has been encouraged by [Democratic strategist] Bob Mulholland, [California Democratic Party Chairman] Art Torres, and the Davis campaign,” Mr. Dreier said after a Schwarzenegger rally yesterday in Arcadia that attracted roughly 1,500 supporters, including women holding signs that read “Gray Davis Groped Me.”

Mr. Torres denied any connection to the stories about Mr. Schwarzenegger.

“What has David Dreier been smoking?” Mr. Torres asked. “When was the last time a political party coordinated coverage with a major newspaper?”

Polls taken immediately after the accusations against Mr. Schwarzenegger were made public show that the Republican actor has suffered no political damage.

A poll released yesterday by SurveyUSA showed that 40 percent of voters said the accusations had no effect on their opinion of him. Another 12 percent said the stories improved their opinion of Mr. Schwarzenegger, though 36 percent said they thought the candidate has “more explaining to do.”

A Field Research poll released yesterday mirrored the SurveyUSA poll, and showed that support for Mr. Schwarzenegger has risen 10 points in the past 10 days, giving him a 36 percent-to-26 percent advantage over Mr. Bustamante.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday, Mr. Davis distanced himself from the articles, saying that he is “just going to let this all settle in and see what the real story is about Mr. Schwarzenegger.”

“I have heard tons of stories you wouldn’t believe,” Mr. Davis said. “You wouldn’t believe how many people come up to me to tell me about indiscretions, but I’m not in that kind of business.”

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