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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 25, 2003 | | September 27, 2003 »
September 26, 2003

How to make Americans love politics

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post loved the recall debate -- and the format. Via Kausfiles.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:46 PM

Davis goes negative

Gray Davis has just rolled out his first negative ad of the campaign, hitting Schwarzenegger for what he says are misstatements on the budget. The ad says spending went up less under Davis than under both Browns, Deukmejian and Reagan, and notes that 47 other states have deficits “because of the national recession.” Then it adds: “Why can’t Arnold Schwarzenegger get his facts straight? He has no experience. …won’t answer press questions…won’t debate unless he has the questions in advance…and didn’t even bother to vote in 13 of 21 elections….Vote no on the recall.”

Posted by dweintraub at 6:22 PM

Another million from Indians for Tom

According to the Secretary of State's web site, the Morongo Indians just dumped another $1.15 million into their television advertising campaign for Tom McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:41 PM

Dem polls show recall with double-digit lead

Everybody knows that candidates who are leading in the polls don't challenge their opponents to debate. So Gray's challenge to Arnold is a tip-off: the gov's momentum has slowed and he is in trouble, just a week and a weekend before the election. How much trouble?

My sources tell me that two Democratic polls, including one by the California Teachers Assn., show the recall leading 54-40 and 54-41. That's a lot of ground to make-up, even if you subscribe to the wisdom that Davis needs only to shave the 54 down to 49.9, which is true but makes the task seem somewhat easier than it is.

The race to replace in one of the Democratic polls is even between Cruz and Arnold at 30-29, with McClintock at 18. The CTA poll, I am told, has Arnold opening up a five-point lead at 31-26, with McClintock at 15. Still a ton of undecided voters out there.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:26 PM

Hewitt: Arnold should take on Gray

Author, commentator and radio host Hugh Hewitt has some advice for Schwarzenegger: accept Davis' challenge to debate, and then some. Agree to debate the governor, but only if he'll do three in three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the election. That would suck the air out of the other replacement candidates' campaigns and give Arnold a way to defend against last-minute Democratic hit pieces. Brilliant.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:54 PM

Arnold backs Indian gaming expansion

Beneath the debate strategy talk in the Contra Costa Times story on their interview with Arnold was some real news: he wants to expand Indian gaming, essentially adopting the position of the tribes, and without charging them a dime of tribute! Instead of paying him campaign contributions, he wants them to pay the state higher fees, which would have to be considered "mitigation" for the effects of their operations on their neighbors because they can't legally be taxed.

Money passage (pun intended):

On Thursday, he said he would seek a share of Indian gaming revenues similar to the 25 percent that Connecticut receives in agreements with gaming tribes there. That plan mirrors a call by Davis early this year to draw $1.5 billion in Indian gaming revenues. Davis has since retreated from the $1.5 billion goal.

"I want to help (gaming tribes) build it from a $5 billion industry to a $10 billion industry ... Let them increase the amount of slot machines. Boom, let their business go crazy. But let them participate and help us," he said. "It's not even an extra tax. It's just, be fair about this and just come in and give the state some money."

Posted by dweintraub at 3:28 PM

Must read

Michael Lewis captures the recall in a fantastic piece in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The lead anecdote features an interview with the governor's neighbor, a woman who signed the recall petition and contributed $2,000 to Rescue California. The piece is very long, and very much worth reading.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:21 PM

More Indian money

Earlier today, the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians gave $1.5 million, and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation gave $400,000 to the First Americans for a Better California, their joint political action committee. The committee reported spending $473,000 on a mailing for Bustamante. A few minutes ago, the committee reported spending $1.5 million on a television ad buy for Bustamante.

The Pechanga Indians, meanwhile, gave $76,000 to the California Republican Assembly, a grass roots group that backs McClintock, and $49,000 to Tax Fighters for Tom McClintock. The Barona Indians gave $21,000 directly to McClintock.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM

Arnold: running for consultant-in-chief?

This morning, while I was waiting to do a segment on MSNBC, the network aired a piece of a television interview Schwarzenegger had done with the NBC affiliate in Sacramento. The clip they played showed Arnold talking about McClintock, and whether McClintock should drop out of the race, and whether he might directly ask McClintock to drop out of the race.

Returning to the office, I found that yesterday, Schwarzenegger also did a sit-down interview with the Los Angeles Daily News and the Contra Costa Times. Both stories led with lengthy coverage of Arnold's comments on his debate strategy, the fact that he hadn't wanted to share the spotlight with his opponents, but that he was pressured into it because he was tagged as afraid to debate. The headline on the Contra Costa story was "Pressure forced Arnold into Forum."

What is going on here? Is Arnold running for Gray Davis' job or Garry South's old job? I'd blame this on his handlers, but it also says something about Schwarzenegger's own political acumen. When you complain to reporters about the debate over debates taking attention away from your campaign's message, you have just created another day where the debate over debates takes away from your campaign's message. When the candidate is on the air talking about his desire to see an opponent drop from the race, he is not talking about his desire to clean up Sacramento, or improve the economy, or fix the schools. This seems pretty elementary to me.

If I am Schwarzenegger, I brush off every question about McClintock with a smile and a shrug, saying something like: "Well, we are both carrying a similar message in this campaign, that it's time for change in Sacramento. I am that change. And I look forward to working with Sen. McClintock when I become governor." Anything more than that is not just a distraction, it makes McClintock into a folk hero to the right.

If I'm Schwarzenegger and I'm asked about debates, I come up with something similarly mundane and unquotable and change the subject to political corruption or jobs.

At this point McClintock and Davis are the only ones talking about California. Bustamante has disappeared and Arnold is obsessed with political strategy.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:28 PM

The chat room

I did an hour-long online chat, or question and answer session, this morning about the recall and California politics with the readers of Here is a transcript.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:36 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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