What Arnold's Admission May Mean

ByABC News
October 3, 2003, 12:37 PM

S A N  F R A N C I S C O, Calif., Oct. 3 -- By publicly acknowledging that he had "behaved badly" with women over the course of his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger unleashed criticism and controversy that managed to engulf, at least temporarily, his effort to replace Gov. Gray Davis.

Schwarzenegger's comments came after an article published inThursday's Los Angeles Times quoted six women who said they hadbeen groped or fondled by the actor-turned-candidate between 1975and 2000. The article also quoted a campaign spokesman denying thatSchwarzenegger had mistreated women, and blaming the Democrats forplanting the allegations.

But in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in San Diego onthe first leg of a statewide bus tour, Schwarzenegger admitted hehad misbehaved at times and apologized for "offending" anyone.

"Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have donethings that were not right which I thought then was playful but nowI recognize that I have offended people," Schwarzenegger said."And to those people that I have offended, I want to say to them Iam deeply sorry about that and I apologize because this is not whatI'm trying to do."

Contain It and Move On

By apologizing quickly and moving on, Schwarzenegger movedsmartly to contain the controversy and change the subject,observers said. But his admission of culpability also raised newquestions about his veracity and character.

"This is not just philandering or adultery this is stuff thatpeople get fired for pretty regularly," said Bruce Cain, apolitical scientist at University of California, Berkeley. "IfArnold is saying he can grope women because people on movie setsplay by a different set of rules, I don't know that people will buythat."

The Times story topped weeks of controversy overSchwarzenegger's history with women. Early in the recall campaign,an interview Schwarzenegger did with Oui magazine in 1977 boastingof a "gang bang" with other bodybuilders in Gold's Gym was widelypublicized.

A Premiere magazine article from 2001 also resurfacedin which Schwarzenegger was depicted as a crude sexual predator.