The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arnie set for different combat: debate
- Star to start campaign in earnest

Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous on film for beating up, blowing up and gunning down opponents, said on Monday he was ready to engage in another form of combat — a political debate.

“I intend to debate (governor) Gray Davis and the other major candidates on the ballot,” the Austrian-born Republican actor said in a statement. But Schwarzenegger’s plans might be put on hold by one of two federal judges who are hearing separate challenges to the October 7 recall on the grounds that, in one case, six state counties have antiquated voting machines; or, in the other, that one county did not follow proper election procedures.

In Los Angeles yesterday, a federal judge put off ruling on whether to postpone the recall on the voting machines question. But he sharply questioned why the groups asking for the six-month delay did not object to using the punch card machines they now say are unfair for the statewide elections. California voters re-elected Democrat Davis in November, but a Republican-funded petition effort succeeded in forcing the first recall vote against a governor in the state’s history. The ballot is set for October 7.

Schwarzenegger said Republican Congressman David Dreier, who has already endorsed the star of the Terminator films, would negotiate the terms of any debates. “Californians are going to love seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger debating Gray Davis and the other candidates,” Dreier said.

After lying low for more than a week, Schwarzenegger is showing signs that he is ready to launch his public campaign in earnest. He booked up to a quarter of a million dollars worth of time at San Francisco television stations for 60-second advertisements to run from Wednesday to Sunday, Mike Kennedy, sales manager for KRON-TV said. On Wednesday, he is also expected to meet his two most high-profile advisers, former secretary of state George Shultz and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, and name others to his economic council.

It is unclear whether Davis would agree to any debate, as he is not directly competing with the replacement candidates. Any serious debate will likely include just a fraction of the total pool of candidates, perhaps based on those leading in surveys. A poll released on Saturday found Democrat Bustamante in first place with 25 per cent followed by Schwarzenegger at 22 per cent.

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