|Update:Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia is hosting a press conference at the Schwarzenegger campaign headquarters at 3:30 this afternoon.|
LA Times reporter Robert Salladay had been just about set to launch a new LA Times political blog yesterday but instead he was polishing up a story that has rocked the governor's race.
This morning Salladay reported on a audiotape that shows Gov. Schwarzenegger in some more candid moments.
In the sanctuary of his Capitol office with an audio recorder rolling, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger describes Republican legislators as the "wild bunch" and, referring to a Latina lawmaker, casually says that "black blood" mixed with "Latino blood" equals "hot" — a fiery personality.
The governor is heard on a six-minute recording, obtained by The Times, of a meeting with some members of his inner circle last spring. At the time, Schwarzenegger was struggling to persuade Republican lawmakers to embrace his plan to place billions of dollars in borrowing on the November ballot.
The fallout began quickly. The FlashReport's Jon Fleischman began by attacking the LA Times, writing "It is not surprising that this unsourced tape is being reported in the L.A. Times - they have always 'had it in' for Arnold Schwarzenegger."
The Schwarzenegger campaign sent out a press advisory at 5:11 am saying the governor would host a Santa Monica press conference at 10am.
At 9:28 (at least in my e-mail inbox), the California Republican Party picked up where Fleischman left off, calling on the LA Times to reveal their source for the tape (i.e. who gave the tape to the paper).
"The California Republican Party demands that the Los Angeles Times name its anonymous source and disclose how it got a recording of the Governor's private conversation. The Los Angeles Times' history of using anonymous sources criticizing the Governor has been called into question by its own reporters and other journalists," said Party Chairman Duf Sundheim in a statement.
Then it was the Democrats' turn.
At 9:29, Phil Angelides released the following statement: "“Once again, Governor Schwarzenegger has used language that is deeply offensive to all Californians and embarrassed our state. His comments reflect a disturbing pattern of behavior. The Governor has a responsibility to conduct himself with dignity.”
A press conference was called by the Democratic Party, featuring United Farm Workers organizer Dolores Huerta, who worked with Ceasar Chavez to organize farmworkers years ago, at 11:15 to criticize the governor's remarks. Meanwhile, a post at the popular Democratic blog Dailykos, calls Schwarzenegger a sexist bigot.
In response to Angelides' statment, the governor's campaign released a statement by Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, the ""black blood' mixed with 'Latino blood'" legislator the governor was referring to.
She attacked Angelides, saying "Phil Angelides has a long history of divisive, over-the-top political attacks including referring to former President Reagan as racist."
California Democratic Party chair Art Torres jumped into the fray, as well, issuing this statement: “I was offended and disturbed upon hearing that the governor had reverted to ethnic and racial stereotyping that we thought had ended in California. He has embarrassed our state and he owes all Californians an apology for his use of this language, especially the good and decent women of the Latino and African American communities.”
Then this morning, Schwarzenegger apologized for his statements. Again, the LA Times has the story.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today apologized for saying the lone Latina Republican lawmaker in California had a "very hot," fiery personality because of her ethnicity, a comment captured on audio tape last spring in his private office.
The governor made his apology in Santa Monica standing next to Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City), the lawmaker Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discussed. Garcia's parents were from Puerto Rico.
"Anyone out there that feels offended by these comments, I just want to say I'm sorry," Schwarzenegger said.
"The fact is that if I would hear this kind of comments in my house, by my kids, I would be upset, and today, when I read it in the papers, it's something when you say things, but it is another thing when you read it in the paper. It made me cringe. It made me feel uncomfortable. And so this is why I thought I should come out and address the issue right away."
Republican leader George Plescia, who had previously remained silent and whom Jon Fleischman said wanted his comments kept private, has issued a statement as well.
“The Governor has called to personally apologize and I accepted. He has reiterated his respect for our entire caucus. Politics is a contact sport, and we look forward to continued civility from all sides as we move toward the November elections.”
I'd imagine the description of him as a confused deer in Schwarzenegger chief of staff Susan Kennedy's backyard rankled the GOP leader--and his statement certainly isnt' nearly as supportive as Garcia's, who stood by Schwarzenegger during his public apology.
I can tell you one thing: I wouldn't want to be working in the Horseshoe today (the nickname for the governor's suite of offices) where I would imagine there is a pretty intense effort to find out how the tape made its way to the Times.
(Oh, and Democratic operative Bob Mulholland says it wasn't him...not that he would have been able to access the tape in the first place).