Robert B. Bluey | Staff Writer | Wednesday, October 1, 2003
With less than a week before California's recall election, the American Life League and Save California intensified their efforts to expose Schwarzenegger's views on issues important to conservative voters.
In the case of the American Life League, the attack came in the form an advertisement, which also targeted two Democrats, Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who like Schwarzenegger are Catholic politicians.
"Each of these candidates claims he's a 'Catholic' and that he'll be a governor who will serve the interests of all the people of California," the ad states. "But the truth is that each of these candidates' open support for legalized abortion will mean a violent death for thousands of California babies in the womb."
State Sen. Tom McClintock, who has the backing of many conservatives, opposes abortion. But McClintock isn't Catholic, and besides, the American Life League is barred from endorsing candidates because of its status as a non-profit organization.
McClintock does have the support of Save California, a pro-family political action committee. The group is urging conservatives to support the state senator, while at the same time calling on Schwarzenegger to drop out of the race.
Randy Thomasson, treasurer of Save California and founder of the Campaign for California Families, dismissed a recent Gallup poll showing Schwarzenegger with a commanding lead among recall candidates. He noted that in a head-to-head contest, McClintock's 56 percent trumps Bustamante's 37 percent among likely voters.
When pollsters asked the same question about Schwarzenegger, he had 58 percent compared to Bustamante's 36 percent. But Thomasson said the actor is no substitute for McClintock.
"When you consider that Schwarzenegger supports taxpayer funding of all abortions, homosexual rights, domestic partnerships and homosexual adoptions, this is not consistent with what it means to be a Republican in California," Thomasson said. "Arnold is out of step with a wide majority of Republicans in this state who want their family values protected."
A spokesman for the California Republican Party, which endorsed Schwarzenegger on Monday, didn't return calls seeking comment.
Supporters of Davis, meanwhile, continued to hammer away at Schwarzenegger as the race became even more focused on two candidates. Bustamante didn't hold any public events for the third straight day, prompting speculation that he might abandon his "No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante" campaign.
Like Schwarzenegger, Bustamante has also come under attack from Save California for his "anti-family positions." The organization launched radio ads Tuesday in Sacramento and the Central Valley, areas that Thomasson said are still in play with large pockets of pro-family voters.
The American Life League targeted voters in the state capital as well. Its ad ran in the Sacramento Bee, singling out Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney for his "turning a blind eye" to the abortion rights positions expressed by Catholic politicians.
"We're trying to let Catholic voters know that the top three contenders are all claiming to be something they're not, and that's Catholics in good standing," said Joseph Starrs, director of the American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church. "They advocate the decriminalized act of destroying babies in the womb."
On Monday, Schwarzenegger spoke openly on Fox News' Hannity and Colmes program about his Catholicism and the positive impact religion has had on his life.
"I'm Catholic. Yes, absolutely," Schwarzenegger said on Monday's show. "I grew up as a Catholic, and my mother was the one that was the spiritual leader in our house, so she took us. It was not even an option. ... So that's the way I grew up, and I'm a spiritual person. I pray, and I, you know, I communicate with God."
Starrs said he's also hoping to convince Catholic bishops and priests that they should refuse Holy Communion to public officials who openly support legalized abortion.
Even though the candidates' campaigns offered no response to the ad, it did catch the attention of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Spokesman Tod Tamberg said American Life League President Judie Brown misunderstands the church's law on Holy Communion.
"The reception of Holy Communion by Catholics is a right guaranteed by the church, not a privilege determined by Judie Brown or anyone else at the American Life League," Tamberg said. "She's not Judge Judie, she's not Bishop Judie, and she's not Pope Judie. The bishops of the church, with the Holy Father, are the ones who interpret church law."
See Earlier Story:
Pundits Reserve Judgment on Schwarzenegger's Jump in Poll (Sept. 30, 2003)
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