- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

From combined dispatches

SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Gray Davis criticized President Bush’s economic policies yesterday as he went on the offensive in his battle to stay in office.

Using the national platform of the Democratic response to the president’s weekly radio address, Mr. Davis charged that Mr. Bush’s policies have led to massive job losses.

“Twelve years ago, much like today, the American economy was hemorrhaging jobs, thanks to Republican leadership in the White House,” Mr. Davis said.

“No president since Herbert Hoover has seen job losses like this over the course of his term in office. We Democrats respectfully say to the president and his Republican Party: Give America back the millions of jobs that your failed policies have taken away.”

The Democrat governor, under fire from rivals for clearing the way for illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, received a boost from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, one of the party’s leading contenders for the 2004 presidential election, who called for a “no” vote in the California recall election on Oct. 7.

Mr. Dean joined the governor in Los Angeles to say he was proud to back Mr. Davis despite his record low poll ratings.

“I don’t care,” Mr. Dean said at a meeting of Asian-Pacific American political activists. “My trademark is I say what I think, for better or worse. … I’m pleased to be here, and I’m proud to be here.”

On Friday, Mr. Davis signed into law a measure giving more than 1 million undocumented residents the right to obtain a driver’s license.

Supporters of the law say it will make roads safer because it will require immigrants who already get behind the wheel to pass a California driver’s test for the first time.

They also see the legislation as part of a larger push toward the acceptance of millions of illegal immigrants in California, most working in unskilled agriculture and service jobs and living in the poorest neighborhoods.

Opponents say the law could allow illegal immigrants to vote, create an incentive for others to follow them across the border and allow terrorists to obtain valid identification without being subjected to background checks. It is also expected to cost California taxpayers tens of millions of dollars amid record budget deficits.

Republican challenger Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that if he is elected governor, he would repeal the law.

The Austrian-born film star, who became an American citizen in the mid-1980s, said in a statement that he was pro-immigrant, but “we should not invite fraud or undermine law enforcement.”

California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante — the only major Democratic replacement candidate if Mr. Davis is voted out — took Mr. Schwarzenegger to task over the issue yesterday.

Mr. Bustamante, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, accused the actor of following the lead of former Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson.

Mr. Wilson’s support of a 1994 statewide initiative to deny illegal immigrants state services enraged Hispanic voters. California Republicans have since faced an uphill struggle in courting them.

An Indian tribe with a casino in California’s San Joaquin Valley — the Tribal Council of the Santa Rosa Rancheria — said yesterday it would endorse Mr. Bustamante, who has taken nearly $3 million in campaign donations from Indian tribes with casinos.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, an action-film hero and former bodybuilding champion, received the endorsement of the California Farm Bureau and Western Growers Association on yesterday.

“We must do everything possible to help our farmers because the first thing that I want to do when I go into this office and become governor is turn the economy around,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in Sacramento.

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