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Peter Ueberroth: 'I'm designed to do the job'

Peter Ueberroth
Peter Ueberroth

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(CNN) -- Former Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth formally kicked off his California gubernatorial campaign Wednesday among a crowded field vying to oust Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in an October 7 recall.

Ueberroth, a Republican, offered an economic plan that focuses on tax amnesty, spending cuts and protecting a voter-imposed cap on property tax rates.

The candidate chaired the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and served as Major League Baseball commissioner from 1985 to 1989.

Ueberroth spoke with CNN anchor Lou Dobbs after the campaign announcement. The following is a transcript:

DOBBS: Why do you want to do this now?

UEBERROTH: Well, I'm designed to do the job. I've been practicing for a long time and it's three years and a quarter that somebody's got to go to Sacramento, stop the spending, make sense of the revenues, not raise taxes and make California friendly again to employers so that we get back on track. And I'll be focused to do that. And I think through the din of all this stuff, the voters will understand it.

DOBBS: You came out immediately. You said, 'set a tax amnesty in California.' Estimates run as high as $6 billion could be raised against what is at least an $8 billion short-term deficit issue. You talk about freezing the salaries of state employees. Why not raise taxes?

UEBERROTH: If both Democrats and Republicans are quoting [the correct numbers] and if people believe that it's an $8 billion to $10 billion shortfall -- waste, fraud, lots of things, hammering on a spending cap, we can get there. But if it's a lot more, we're going to have to look all over the place to make California more efficient.

But the key thing is California's dependent upon jobs, good jobs. And we have to reverse the trend for good jobs to leave the state and not so well-paying jobs coming into the state.

DOBBS: The anti-business climate of California has worsened over the years. Can any candidate effectively, quickly change that climate in California that would embrace business, entrepreneurialism, innovation?

UEBERROTH: We have to play to our strengths and California is a great place. And it's a great place for entrepreneurs. The listeners know that in our country, that it's small and medium-sized business that brings any recovery in any cycle. We've got to do that and we've got to do it very well. And it's only taken two or three years to make California an unfriendly place by passing laws, passing regulations, making workers comp into a situation which is not even describable by any means of communication. We've got to reverse that.

We've got to attack it. And you need someone who pays attention to it, focused and goes and does it. And when the voters get through with this, all of the fanfare, they're going to make a decision. Do they want somebody who has trained for this job, I didn't know I was training for it over the last 25 years, pick someone like that or they're going to pick somebody else. And that will be how it all turns out.

DOBBS: Are you going to spend only your money on this campaign or are you going to accept donations?

UEBERROTH: Yes, I'm going to accept donations from some friends, people who believe in me, but that's not going to be the way we get it done all together. I only have one special interest group.

Everyone has special interests groups, we have just one and that's jobs. Jobs -- good jobs for people in California. Taxpayers pay the bill, after all. Californians are taxed in every which way.

Incidentally, raising taxes won't solve any problems in California.

DOBBS: You're arrayed against a vast field -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Tom McClintock, Arianna Huffington and a host of others.

Should the recall against Gov. Davis succeed, is there some strategy here that says you can overcome the celebrity of Schwarzenegger, the bedrock pragmatism, if you will, of Sen. Tom McClintock? What is the approach here?

UEBERROTH: First of all, I respect -- no negatives on any of those people or on the present administration.

Anybody who is willing to be a public servant gets my respect and I'm going to stay out of that kind of fight.

They'll take punches at me, but I'm not going to punch back. But they are going to -- the big difference is, you mentioned an awful lot of people. To do this job [requires] someone who's trained, who has worked with Democrats and Republicans [to] pull it together.

[Los Angeles Mayor] Tom Bradley was my partner in the Olympics. He's probably the finest mayor that most any city has ever had in California.

And I couldn't have done it without him.

That's what it's going to be.


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