Battle for California
Aired August 11, 2003 - 09:07 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: "Time" magazine reporting this week that Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to run for governor was made literally at the last minute, and made backstage.
We'll explain that now. The inside story from "Time" magazine's national political correspondent. Karen Tumulty is with us live in D.C.
Karen, good morning to you. How are you?
I heard you talking about this story yesterday with Wolf Blitzer on "LATE EDITION." It's a fascinating piece of information. Backstage with Jay Leno, hours before he goes on "The Tonight Show," what's the conversation Jay Leno has with Arnold Schwarzenegger that you're reporting?
KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, and I'm not sure. By then, I would assume the decision had been made. But as you were suggesting, Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a better opening in the polls than his last movie had, and one reason is the element of surprise. So as he was walking on to the stage of "Jay Leno" the other night, his top political adviser was standing there with a piece of paper in his hand, a statement that said, I will not run for governor.
And Jay Leno asked him, he said, how are you going to break the news to -- that you're not going to run? This is what everybody expected, and Schwarzenegger said, I'm bowing out. So you can imagine the surprise his own campaign manager, George Gordon (ph), felt, when he hears him announce exactly the opposite on the air. In fact, Gordon was convinced that until the commercial break, that Schwarzenegger was joking.
HEMMER: Karen, give me a timeframe here. When did that conversation take place as opposed to when he came out and appeared on the show?
TUMULTY: Literally minutes before he aired on the show.
HEMMER: So in this couple of minutes period, what changed? Or did something change and Schwarzenegger was just hiding the information?
TUMULTY: Well, actually, I think the truth is that the critics have been wrong all these years about Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting abilities. And as we suggest in the story, it's too bad they don't give an Academy Award for head fakes. We do know that probably 10 days, a week before the announcement, he certainly was telling everybody he was not going to run.
In fact, he had spent the Sunday before the announcement with his dear friend Dick Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles, and left Riordan with the impression that not only was he not going to run, he was going to actually endorse Dick Riordan.
So over the next few days, though, apparently, according to everyone close to him, some things started falling in to place for him. One thing was that he was less and less convinced Riordan had his heart in the race. Another thing was that he was getting some advice from people like Pete Wilson, who said, you know, Arnold, what Richard Nixon once told me is, if you think you can win now, you better go now.
And finally, what may have mattered more than anything else was that his wife, Maria Shriver, who was part of the Kennedy family, and because of that, knows better than just about anyone else what the real costs of going into politics are, that whatever reluctance she had about this race had really softened.
And then, finally, the very day he goes on "Leno," his toughest potential opponent, Dianne Feinstein, withdrew from the race, or said she was not going to run. Now, at least in our "Time"/CNN poll, she was the only candidate who could have beat him. So by the time he walked on to that stage with Leno, all the pieces had finally fell into place.
HEMMER: So it was the perfect political story that all came together. Amazing reporting, too, if indeed everything came the way, and it's on your cover, too. Arnold didn't pay a dime for this publicity. Kind of makes it a tough road for just about every other candidate out there, of which they're about 200 right now, but a handful or so that are quite serious about this.
Another candidate, Gray Davis. You're reporting that he recently met with Bill Clinton. They had a conversation. What did you find out about this?
TUMULTY: Well, it so happened that the two of them happened to be in Chicago last Monday afternoon. And so Bill Clinton, who was the ultimate political survivor, sat down with Gray Davis in a meeting room at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, and he drew some comparisons to the situation that he faced during impeachment, and he told Davis, he said, look the only thing that saved me during impeachment was that I stayed focused on my job. I made sure that every day the American people saw me out there doing my job. And certainly this does seem to be a piece of advice that Gray Davis has taken. In fact, as the filing deadline hit on Saturday, what Californians saw Gray Davis doing was signing an environmental bill in Santa Monica.
HEMMER: If he follows that advice, he'll be seen every day for about the next 60 days. October 7th is the day it goes down.
Thanks, Karen. Good reporting.
TUMULTY: Thank you, Bill. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com