Schwarzenegger says he'll appear at one debate

Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, braving autograph seekers, near 100-degree heat and vendors selling fried Twinkies, took his campaign to replace Gov. Gray Davis to the California State Fair yesterday and blamed the Democratic incumbent for the state's troubled economy.

Schwarzenegger, answering a few questions from reporters but offering little detail on campaign issues, lamented that nearly 22,000 Californians were laid off in July.

He cited high taxes, over-regulation and the costly workers' compensation system for the state's economic woes, and accused Davis of being "in the pockets" of special interests.

Schwarzenegger said for the first time that he would participate in one debate, to be held Sept. 17 by the California Broadcasters Association. The association's format includes taking questions from voters and submitting them in advance to candidates.

The candidate rejected 15 other debate requests, including tomorrow's forum in Walnut Creek, the first debate of the campaign.

Republican Peter V. Ueberroth, the former Los Angeles Olympics organizer and Major League Baseball commissioner, urged Schwarzenegger to join other main gubernatorial candidates in the "Race to Recall" forum tomorrow.

Saying that participating in the debates "shows respect for the voters," Ueberroth said Schwarzenegger's presence would elevate the exposure of all the main candidates - and broaden voters' awareness.

"The ratings will double or triple if Arnold is there," Ueberroth said. "He would be doing a great service for the recall campaign, and for himself."

Without Schwarzenegger's presence, Ueberroth said, early absentee voters could end up voting before they've watched him outline his vision for governing California.

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