Transcript: Gray Davis Interview

In an interview on the eve of the recall election, California Governor Gray Davis told ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings that he is optimistic, and that his challenger Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to prove his leadership.

PETER JENNINGS: You yourself said in the plane, "Three days left." What can you change now?

DAVIS: I believe there are still people making up their minds. This is a serious election for California and I believe we still have an audience. We need to bring the Democrats home. If you bring the Democrats home there will not be a recall.

JENNINGS: So than what can you do in these days? What's the plan?

DAVIS: Today Senator (Dianne) Feinstein is with us and she will help reinforce that message. I believe a recall will breed another recall in retaliation that's not good for the state. It will discourage investment because people are looking for a stable political climate and it will make elected officials even more timid because they know if they do anything bold now that people don't like they can be recalled. Recall was meant for extraordinary incompetence, criminality or some kind of mental incompetence and obviously those factors don't exist. Now this is essentially a repeat of last November's election.

JENNINGS: It's quite fascinating to see you now being blamed for everything.

DAVIS: There was a cartoon in the LA Times which is my favorite cartoon. Two women are in the Pacific Ocean and one says to the other 'boy the water is cold today'. And the other one says 'Yes , I blame Gray Davis.'

JENNINGS: How did you get here? How did you get to this? Twice you've been elected for your leadership. How did you get to this point?

DAVIS: I got to this point because we won last year at a time when Republicans were winning across the country and local Republican activists were mad. They started gathering petitions within 30 days of when I was inaugurated. I barely had time for a cup of coffee, and they're saying we didn't like the results of last year's election; we want to have another one. Now they did tap into some genuine anger, but converting that anger into signatures was the brainchild of Republican activists that were ticked off that the voters turned away their candidate and allowed me to complete the task of governing this state.

JENNINGS: How frustrating is it to be currently losing to a man who appears to know little about the business of the state?

DAVIS: You know I'm always optimistic, I always see the bright side of life. Sharon and I are people of faith and we believe God never gives you more than you can handle so I'm going to make my case and I am going to make it earnestly I'm going to make it positively and I'm optimistic people will do the right thing on Tuesday.

JENNINGS: It seems to me that you have to say that. But you have to be hugely frustrated.

DAVIS: Actually I look on this kind of stoically. It reminds me of when I was in Vietnam many years ago. I saw a lot of inequities in life. There weren't too many Anglo Army captains that went to Stanford. A lot of minorities — it didn't seem fair to me. It seemed we were fighting a war, the whole country should bear the burden. I didn't know what I was going to do about it but it prepared me for some of the inequities of life. Life is not always fair. All you can do is make your case, make it with good grace. Do it with some force and have confidence the voters will make a good judgment at the end of the day.

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