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Davis apologizes for remark on Schwarzenegger accent

Davis: "It was a poor joke. I shouldn't have done it."

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- California Gov. Gray Davis offered an apology of sorts Wednesday for a remark he made over the weekend about Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent.

Davis told a supporter Saturday that "you shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state," referring to the way Schwarzenegger, who was born and raised in Austria, pronounces "California."

Schwarzenegger is running as a Republican to replace the Democratic governor in the October 7 recall election. The film star's campaign has been demanding an apology.

In an interview with San Francisco's KGO-AM, Davis explained the remark, saying: "I was joking around with someone in the crowd after a speech. ... It was a poor joke. I shouldn't have done it."

He went on to say: "If people want to hear me apologize, I apologize for it. But I want them to know that I'm doing this because I feel so strongly that this is a state that welcomes all people."

When asked, however, whether his apology was directed at Schwarzenegger, Davis said no. "I'm not apologizing to a person. I'm apologizing for making a remark."

He said Schwarzenegger should apologize for having supported Proposition 187 -- the 1994 initiative that cut off access to public education and other social services for illegal immigrants -- and for opposing a bill Davis recently signed allowing illegal immigrants in California to obtain driver's licenses.

Davis also said he regretted making the controversial remark "because I'd rather eat humble pie than have one Californian think that I don't fully appreciate, which I do, the role immigrants have played in our society."

Asked about Davis' remarks to the radio station Wednesday, Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh called it a "pretty sad spectacle" that "Davis feels compelled to deflect attention from his failings and bring wedge issues into the campaign."

-- CNN National Correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.

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