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Federal judges refuse to postpone California recall

Schwarzenegger picks up chamber endorsement

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about a controversial 1977 interview at a news conference on Friday.
Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about a controversial 1977 interview at a news conference on Friday.

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Economic issues dominate the first debate among the California recall candidates for governor.
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CNN's Frank Buckley reports on the finances of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign for California's governorship.
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SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- The latest legal challenge to the California gubernatorial recall was defeated Friday by a panel of three federal judges who refused to delay the October 7 election despite concerns about the possible impact on minority voters in Monterey County.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund had filed suit, charging that the county's plan to eliminate more than 100 polling places and cut the number of bilingual poll workers would disenfranchise Latino voters.

But the three-judge panel, with one Democratic and two Republican appointees, refused to block the vote.

Thursday, the Justice Department also approved election plans for Monterey County, south of San Jose, which is one of four California counties falling under the jurisdiction of the Voting Rights Act.

Many county election officials -- scrambling to organize the recall election in less than three months -- have opted to consolidate polling places, triggering complaints by recall opponents that minority voters will be adversely affected.

However, numerous legal challenges to the recall in both state and federal courts have been unsuccessful.

One of those challenges is still being reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals. In that suit, the ACLU is challenging the use of punch card voting in six counties, including Los Angeles, the state's largest.

Meanwhile, many of the recall gubernatorial candidates, along with embattled incumbent Gray Davis, were on the campaign trail.

In Dana Point, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a press conference at which he was again questioned about a controversial 1977 interview with an adult magazine in which he talked bluntly about sex.(Full story)

Schwarzenegger suggested that his comments in that Oui magazine interview -- which included a description of group sex with other bodybuilders and one woman -- were an exaggeration "to get attention and headlines." He was promoting the documentary "Pumping Iron" at the time of the interview.

"I was a different person then," the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned politician said. "Today we have to look (to) the future, which is the future of this state. It is not what was said in the '70s by me that has ruined the economy of California. What has ruined the California economy is (Cruz) Bustamante and Gray Davis."

Beginning Monday, Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, will begin appearing on her own at campaign events for her husband, the candidate's campaign aides told CNN.

Shriver appeared with her husband at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new campaign headquarters in Santa Monica Friday evening, joining him for the first time on the campaign since he filed papers to run in early August, aides said.

Bustamante, the Democratic lieutenant governor, is leading the polls. He says he opposes the recall, but is running as a replacement to Davis should the recall effort succeed.

In a positive development for Schwarzenegger, the California Chamber of Commerce Friday announced its endorsement for the actor in the recall election. The endorsement is a first for the 112-year-old chamber.

At a news conference after a meeting with the candidate, Chamber President Allan Zaremberg said Schwarzenegger has a "pro-business agenda" that would be good for the state. Chamber officials said that Bustamante declined an invitation to come before the chamber and explain his views

Meanwhile, dozens of women protesters Friday demonstrated outside Schwarzenegger's new campaign headquarters, accusing him of being a sexist who has no place in the governor's office.

The demonstrators chanted outside and held signs of protest. "Terminate the Barbarian," one sign read.

Code Pink, one of the main groups that organized the demonstration, said in a statement that Schwarzenegger had made misogynistic comments as recently as July.

A majority of votes on October 7 will determine whether Davis is kicked out of office. The second part of the ballot ask voters to pick his possible replacement from a list of 135 names. His successor, if there is one, will be determined by a plurality of votes.

--CNN national correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.


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