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Bush takes hands-off approach to California recall

Spokeswoman says it's an issue for state voters

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a few autographs Thursday before entering the Los Angeles County Register Office.

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CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush has no plans to endorse actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who campaigned actively for his father, or to get involved in the California recall race at all, a White House spokeswoman said Thursday.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the president "believes that this is an issue for the people of California. And that's where it stands."

Bush described himself last week as "an interested political observer," but signaled no preference.

A senior Bush campaign strategist said Thursday that the president is keeping his powder dry and watching how things play out. While clearly the most famous, Schwarzenegger is just one of dozens of candidates in that race, and several state Republican officials have said they will file to run too.

"Arnold's got charisma," said the Bush strategist. "But either rich or famous people who have never run before, you never know what's going to happen. California has a history of wealthy people with no political experience who have not done well."

The strategist said the field running for California governor is reminiscent of the "bar in 'Star Wars.' " That scene in the move is famous for its assortment of oddball characters.

If Schwarzenegger does do well, Bush officials concede they could have a better chance than ever of doing well in the Golden State, which has not voted Republican for president since the elder President Bush took the state in 1988.

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