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Star Arnie casts himself as populist politician

Los Angeles, Aug. 8 (Reuters): Arnold Schwarzenegger brought his Hollywood star power to bear yesterday as a newly declared candidate for California governor, casting himself as a populist politician out to clean up state government but offering few details of his platform.

Making his first public appearance since his surprise announcement on Wednesday that he would challenge governor Gray Davis in a recall election this autumn, Schwarzenegger arrived at the Los Angeles county registrar’s office to pick up official papers he needs to get his name on the ballot.

The Terminator star was greeted by a throng of reporters, photographers and TV crews as well as hundreds of cheering fans and supporters who swarmed the front of the office building as he arrived in a black sports utility vehicle.

Dressed in a dark blue blazer and tie, the actor waded through a gauntlet of well-wishers, shaking hands and signing autographs. When one woman asked what he would do as governor, he replied: “Clean house! Clean house!” pumping his fist. Re-emerging after obtaining his nominating papers, the Austrian-born former body-builder addressed the crowd, saying his priorities would be to bolster California’s economy, improve education and reform “the whole system” of government. He gave no specifics.

Asked about how he plans to tackle California’s crippling budget shortfall, the main problem for which Davis has been blamed, Schwarzenegger said: “We will have a plan very soon,” adding that a key to his budget policy would be to revitalise the state’s economy.

Addressing concerns that he lacks sufficient political experience to effectively govern, the actor insisted that his leadership skills far surpass those of Davis. “In everything I ever did I showed great leadership,” he said.

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