Cleaning Up California Politics

Arianna Huffington delivered the following statement on September 30, 2003.

Over the last 48 hours it has become clear to me that the only way to stop a Republican takeover of our state is to vote No on the recall.

Because it's also clear that I am not going to win on October 7, I am withdrawing from the race so that I can devote all my time and energy in the remaining week to defeating the recall -- and to defeating the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Pete Wilson forces that are trying to use the recall to hijack our state.

The number one goal of my candidacy has always been ending the power of special interest money to determine public policy. Which is why I filed a Clean Money/Clean Elections ballot initiative last week to create a system of publicly funded campaigns.

And now as we look at the list of special interests funding the Schwarzenegger campaign -- from big developers to big banking and insurance interests, many of them the same interests funding George Bush's re-election efforts -- we know that, when payback time comes in a Schwarzenegger administration, and it will come very quickly, it's the people of California who will pay the price.

Not the privileged people, but the millions of people who are already struggling -- and who will have to face an economic agenda that unfailingly favors the rich and corporate interests.

The last thing we need in California is more of the Bush administration's destructive economic policies.

Is there anybody who seriously surveys the economic landscape of the nation and comes to the conclusion that what California needs is some more of that Bush crony capitalism that is working such magic across the country? Because that's what Schwarzenegger will deliver.

I am an idealist, and I believe that we can and will fundamentally change our broken political system.

But I'm also a realist. And although the voters have not yet spoken, and although I don't for a moment believe the absurd, wildly fluctuating poll numbers we're being fed, there are certain realities that must be addressed while there is still time to change the outcome of this election.

From the beginning of my campaign I have said that I opposed the recall on principle. It was backed by a bunch of Republican sore losers looking for a backdoor way to overturn an election they lost.

Nevertheless, once the recall was set, I felt that the opportunity it offered to elect a truly independent and progressive governor was too important to let pass. And so I entered the race.

But now it's clear that's not going to happen, my highest priority is to issue a wake up call and bring a sense of urgency to what is at stake.

The people of California simply cannot afford to have Arnold Schwarzenegger as their governor.

In 2000, we were taken in by a charming, affable man who promised us compassion but gave us war in Iraq, a soaring deficit, millions of lost jobs, two million more people living in poverty, and the rollback of vital environmental protections. I look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, and see more of the same. We don't need another charming, affable figurehead for all the usual Republican special interests. Let's not be fooled again.

When this race started, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an unknown quantity. And a week before the election there is still far too much we don't know about him.

If, as he says, he is going to balance the budget but raise no taxes, shouldn't he have to tell us -- before the election, not after -- precisely what vital programs and services he proposes to cut to make that happen -- and precisely who is going to feel the pain of those cuts?

Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent millions of dollars crafting and selling a political persona that is completely contradicted by reality.

He got into this race promising to take no special interest money, then turned around and raised millions from special interests.

He painted himself as an outsider, then surrounded himself with Pete Wilson operatives and a Who's Who of GOP insiders.

He went on Oprah to appeal to women, but didn't include a single woman on his team of economic advisors. In a state where there are tens of thousands of women in positions of power, including both U.S. Senators, there was not even one woman who he thought worthy of adding to the mix?

We must not vote for a fantasy leader and end up with a nightmare: a Bush Republican who thinks the answer to all of California's problems can be found in making life even easier for businesses and giant corporations.

So on October 7, I urge you to join me in voting "No" on the recall. It is the only way left to save our state.

Then, on October 8, join me as we carry on the fight to put the Clean Elections Initiative on the ballot and put an end to the tyranny of special interest politics.

Don't miss the hard-hitting new animated short, It's Your Move.

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