S A N D I E G O, Calif., Oct. 2, 2003 -- California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off his bus tour of California today amid allegations of sexual harassment and anti-Semitism.
In a front-page story, the Los Angeles Times, California's largest newspaper, quoted six women who claim Schwarzenegger groped or made sexually offensive remarks to them. One woman told ABCNEWS she encountered Schwarzenegger in the 1970s when he was a bodybuilder.
"The gym was quite full and Arnold was there and I remember him passing by me and groping my breast," Elaine Stockon told ABCNEWS. "And I was just in sheer shock."
Of the six women who spoke to the newspaper, four would not give their names. One claimed that 20 years ago, Schwarzenegger "grabbed and squeezed" her left breast. She told the Los Angeles Times she "just started crying and crying." She said he did not rape her, but he humiliated her.
The Los Angeles Times also quoted a woman, who asked not to be named, who worked on the movie Terminator 2 and claimed Schwarzenegger "would pin me against the corner of the elevator" and try to pull off the straps of her bathing suit.
The story broke just as Schwarzenegger was kicking off his bus tour of California — an event that was supposed to be the crescendo of his campaign.
He confronted the allegations directly today. At first he appeared to deny them: "A lot of those what you see the story, is not true." But he then added, "I have done things that at the time I thought then was playful but now I recognize that I have offended people. And those people that I have offended, I want to say to them I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize."
‘I Admired Hitler’
Yet even as he tried to put out that fire, another broke out.
ABCNEWS obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a verbatim transcript of an interview Schwarzenegger gave in 1975 while making the film Pumping Iron.
Asked who his heroes are, he answered, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."
He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."
The author of the book proposal, Pumping Iron's director, George Butler, told ABCNEWS today that the quotes needed to be seen in context, and that Arnold never said anything anti-Semitic.
"I cannot remember any of these," Schwarzenegger told ABCNEWS. "All I can tell you is that I despise everything Hitler stood for. I despise everything the Nazis stood for, everything the Third Reich stood for."
In the final days of his campaign, Schwarzenegger may be battling yet another opponent: his own past.