September 3, 2003 | Broadcast

CNN American Morning

As the recall election approaches, vents from the personal lives of Schwarzenegger and the top Democratic contender, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, could be major campaign factors. Joining us this morning to talk about that from Washington D.C., Democratic consultant Victor Kamber.

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Good morning.

O’BRIEN: Also Cliff May. Good morning. Cliff May, he’s the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Good morning to both of you guys. Let’s start with you, Victor. And I guess let’s begin with the checkered past of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’ve been talking about this interview with “Oui” magazine. Arnold has said he doesn’t remember it. And, frankly, it took place 20, 30 years ago. Lots of interviews that he did that he doesn’t remember. Do you think that essentially sets the tone? He moves past it, we all move on.

KAMBER: I don’t see how he moves past it. I’m not a moralist and I’ve — certainly if I was in California I’m not voting to elect a saint. We’re voting for a governor.

But here’s a man at age of 29 when he did the interview talks about — and excuse this at this hour — a gang bang. At a minimum he participated in an orgy. And beyond that we don’t even know if it was consensual or not. He talks about drugs. He talks about a lifestyle that is foreign to those that have claimed to support him.

I smile, although it’s not a smiling matter, that these several conservative Republican congressmen here who voted to impeach Bill Clinton and a number of conservatives there who support Arnold Schwarzenegger would have hung Bill Clinton up by his toes for half of the things that are being said here. And yet they’re holding their nose saying, We’re going to supporting Arnold.

Arnold loses on this issue as long as it stays alive and he should.

O’BRIEN: All right, Victor, let me move on to Cliff.

I heard a funny clip from someone who said, Yeah, now he’s going to steal all of Larry Flynt’s voters, which I thought was sort of amusing. But, seriously, do you think that social conservatives and religious conservatives will back away from Arnold Schwarzenegger? That it has enough impact to overall affect his base of voters?

CLIFF MAY, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: Well, conservative voters have not embraced him. The question is how many conservative voters you have in California? It’s an important part of the Republican Party out there, but in terms of numbers it’s pretty small.

And, look, it won’t help him with the conservative voters. It may help him with swing voters. I’m not sure in California.

KAMBER: Swinger voters.

MAY: I don’t know if that pun was intended or not.

O’BRIEN: Oh! We’re just full of really cute quips this morning.

MAY: Anyway, listen, there’s no question there are skeletons in Arnold’s closet. It’s not going to help him among conservative voters. I don’t think it hurts him in terms of the California population in general, whether they live that way or hope to at some point in their lives.

(CROSSTALK)

O’BRIEN: … I want to move on to another skeleton in another closet which is the Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He belonged to a Hispanic group called MEChA in college. And I guess some arms of MEChA, this college group, can be a little bit over the top.

What do you think, Cliff, the impact will be for him? He’s essentially Nordic.

MAY: It’s going to him among a lot of voters as well, I think, because this is a group that believes that a great portion of the southwest is occupied territory, should be given back to Mexico. It’s a group that believes in “la raza”, the idea that there is a Hispanic race and — todo por la raza, I think, everything for the race, nothing outside the race.

And he hasn’t been willing to say, You know what? I believed those kinds extreme views in my youth, but I repudiate them now. He hasn’t done that yet. It’s going to hurt him among Anglo voters.

O’BRIEN: All right, Victor. On the other hand, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante — I keep mispronouncing his name this morning — does he have a lot of Anglo voters anyway?

KAMBER: No. That’s the whole point. If you look at the demographics, why this potentially, and maybe for the wrong reasons, helps him and why the other statement hurts Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bustamante by many Latinos was not viewed as Latino enough. This probably helps and probably will increase his voter turnout. He wasn’t getting in the demographic numbers much Anglo-White vote. He had some hard core liberal Democrats that believe a Democrat should hold onto it. They’ll stay there, I’m sure. And I think the Latino vote will turn out more.

The one thing with the Schwarzenegger I have to go to go back to. He has 23 percent of the vote today. Over 55 percent of that 23 percent claim to be conservative Republicans. So he cannot afford to lose numbers and I see no growth with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s statements. I see potential growth for maybe the wrong reasons with the lieutenant governor’s statements.

O’BRIEN: We will see what the next round of polls tells us. All right, guys. Cliff May, Victor Kamber. Nice to see you as always. Thanks so much.

KAMBER: Thank you.

MAY: Thank you.