Transcript: Arnold Schwarzenegger Interview

ByABC News

Oct. 6, 2004 -- Arnold Schwarzenegger says that if he is elected governor he will remain fixed on the goals he has set out for California, and he tells ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings that "dirty campaign" allegations about him are not true.

Here is a full transcript:

PETER JENNINGS: What do you like about campaigning?

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, it's a means to the end. That's what I like about it. You set a certain goal. You say this is what I can do for California, and campaigning is the thing that gets you there. It's like what I like about competing. It's the training itself, gets you there, then you can compete and you're in good shape. This is what this is. So this is like a means to an end. This is the part, like filming a movie. It's like get there so you can have the perfect picture and show to the people great entertainment. So it's a means to an end. It's a very important part of the process.

SCHWARZENEGGER: The thing is, when you see the people, this is all about people. When you see the people out there and how hungry they are. How much they want to hear about hope. That you're going to bring changes and all this. People are really angry and disappointed of what has happened in the last few years.

JENNINGS: Are you ever afraid you may let them down?


JENNINGS: Are you ever afraid that you may let them down?

SCHWARZENEGGER: You know, I know myself well enough that when I commit to something then I'm like an Alabama tick. I will stay with it until the end. That is the key thing. I mean, you don't want to let anybody down. This is one thing that I don't want to do. Whatever it is I'm committed to do, like after-school programs — then it becomes a crusade for after-school programs and going up and down the state and creating more after-school programs in all the different schools, or if it is nationwide. I remember when I was with the president's council on fitness with President Bush. I traveled. I was the first one to travel to all 50 states. I wanted to make sure I that I reached out to every single state and pound away the message of healthy living in sports and fitness.

JENNINGS: But whether you are an Alabama tick or working with the president's fitness council, there isn't much opposition to what you're doing. And government in California especially, is huge, complex and resistant.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes, every job has its challenges. Nothing is easy. If it's easy, everybody would be doing it. It's a big state. It's a powerful state. It's the 6th largest economy in the world. It has the most diversified economy and people here. I mean just alone in Los Angeles they speak 120 some languages. It is really a big, big thing. And I have to say that I can take on the challenge because I would not be doing it by myself. One of the things I have been saying to people all along is that this is not something I want to do by myself or can I do it by myself.

SCHWARZENEGGER: The important thing is that whenever you take on a challenge like this is that you realize that you can't do this by yourself. This is a huge goal. And you need a lot of help. And there are a lot of smart people in this state. And I have surrounded myself with a lot of smart people. It's important to create a great transition team and then to pick a good team that will help you to bring a lot of smart people to make your dreams and to make your wishes and your goals turn into reality.

JENNINGS: Let's talk about some issues. You're pro-abortion?


JENNINGS: You're pro gun control?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I believe in the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms — but at the same time I believe in the Brady Bill — to have background checks and all that and to have control. The key thing is that we enforce the laws, not create new laws.

JENNINGS: And you're pro gay rights?


JENNINGS: You don't talk about that very much on this campaign.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I don't think this is something that people want to change. People have those rights here and this is not something that needs to change, or it's not on my agenda to change because it's already there. What needs to change is the economy. You know the people are really suffering. They are losing jobs here in this state. And jobs and businesses are moving outside the state. And what I want to do is bring the jobs and the businesses back here, creating a positive business environment so that people want to do business here, and then also to really stimulate the businesses and encourage people with incentives, with tax incentives, to start small businesses again.

JENNINGS: In essence your campaigning as a fiscal conservative and not talking about those, what would be described as more liberal issues. Any particular reason for that?

SCHWARZENEGGER: My campaign is about this is the changes that I want to bring about in California. And the people are concerned today about the economy, about jobs and the pocket book. You know it's the old thing that Ronald Reagan used to say, "Are you better off now than four years ago?" And this is exactly the question that the people ask themselves here in California. Are we better off than we were four years ago, before Davis, five years ago before Davis? And they say no. Everything has gone down. And so this is why they are upset. And this is whey they want to recall Gray Davis. So that's what you have to campaign on. People are also very upset about education.

JENNINGS: Can we talk about money before we talk about education. Do you mind? You brought up taxes.


JENNINGS: You want to repeal the car tax?


JENNINGS: You want to give more money to education?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I did not say that. What I want to do, what we want to do is really make education a priority. Which means we make sure that Sacramento stays out of the business of running the schools. Because there is no such thing as a mold for every school in California. There are so many thousands of schools that we have here. Every area, every community, in Modesto here, is a different challenge educationally than we have in south central Los Angeles. We have different challenges here than in East L.A. I provide after school programs. I am in the schools. I'm in the trenches. Those politicians out there, how many times do they go into schools? They go into schools for photo ops. I'm there and I'm working there? (OVERLAP)

JENNINGS: Can you improve education without putting more money in the system?

SCHWARZENEGGER: It's nothing to do that much with money; it has to do with streamlining it and letting the local officials make the decisions, that they know best what they need to do in the local level. Sacramento doesn't know what is best. We have to make sure that we have, for instance, the best teachers in the inner-city schools where there is a lot of problems. We have to make sure that we have equal education. Right now in California we don't have equal education for all students. The inner-city schools have a problem. The other schools, the more affluent schools, they are doing well. The inner-city schools don't have the books many times. They don't have the homework material all the time.

JENNINGS: How do you get new books without money?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, we just have to make sure that we streamline the whole thing.

JENNINGS: What's the definition…what do you want to streamline?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Make it more efficient. See where the mistakes are. See where the waste is and then re-channel it and make sure that it goes into the classroom. Right now, for instance Peter, for every dollar that we are putting into education, only 40 cents goes into the classroom. We have to change that. We have to make sure that they get fair education, good education. You can throw more money at it. That's not the way to do it because right now we don't have more money. We have to be fiscally responsible.

JENNINGS: And you will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes except in an emergency. Is that your position?

SCHWARZENEGGER: That's right. Because we don't have a problem here in California of being undertaxed. We have a problem here that we have overspent. We had a growth of 21 percent in California. We had a growth of 28 percent when it comes to revenues. We had a growth of 36 percent when it comes to spending. Why would you spend an increase of 36 percent when you only have a growth of only 28 percent. Why not stay with the 28 percent? It's fiscally irresponsible.

JENNINGS: So where do you get the money?

SCHWARZENEGGER: It's not where you get the money. It's don't spend more than you have. We have the money. We have $73 billion coming into this state. So only spend seventy-three. And then when $80 billion is coming in, then you can look and say ok we can spend $80 billion. And I would even recommend then to put a few billion aside for the rainy day. That's another big mistake we're making here.

JENNINGS: It's raining already Mr. Schwarzenegger.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Oh yeah, but I have no reserves. Do you know where the reserves are? Pete Wilson left $9 billion in reserves. Nine billion dollar surplus. It's gone. Do you know why? Because the liberal have been spending and spending and spending. We have to control them.

JENNINGS: What do you do about this deficit?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Stop spending. That's why I said that the first thing I would do is open up the books and show where is now the waste going in government. Because people don't do that. It's not a common thing.

JENNINGS: Do you not know now?

SCHWARZENEGGER: We know some of the things. But until we get in there…remember one thing, Peter. That easy solutions, fast solutions, are not always the good solutions. You have to take your time. This problem was created over a period of years, and it would take months and months and months to start working on it and really solving some of the problems. The first thing that you have to do is open up the books. Let the people see the waste that's going on in there. And the second thing you have to do is put a spending cap on it. Say stop spending. There's no signing of new programs and bills or anything like this. Let's just stop right now. We only have this much money. Let's redo the current operating deficit. Let's work on that, and then slowly start thinking about the inherited debt, which by the way is been at 12 and 20 billion dollars now. This is the kind of thing we have to work on now to be fiscally responsible.

JENNINGS: Wouldn't it be responsible politically for you to tell people more specifically where you think you are not going to spend, or where you have to have cuts? All you simply say before every audience is 'I am going to open up the books and look'. Surely you know now where you're going to have to spend less, or where you may have to cut. Maybe massive cuts.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Let me tell you something. When you buy a business - you see, you have never run a business. Those politicians have never run a business. I have run many businesses. And I know when to take over business, to look in there and open up the books, and go through and audit it line by line. Before I buy it, I only can guess that there is a certain amount of waste. But when I get in there, then I really can go line by line through the whole thing and find the waste. And then I can make the changes. And then you can create more revenues, can create more profits for the company and all this kinds of things. See the problem is, up there in Sacramento, these guys, a lot of them, are not businessmen. They've never run a business. They've never met payroll like I have. They've never paid for worker's compensation. They have never had to deal with the profit margin or sign a check in the front. They sign a check on the back. That's all they know how to do.

JENNINGS: But you're giving me a campaign speech now. What's the comparison between running a huge, complicated economy like the state of California and running even a modestly large business?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, the important thing is, the same thing that I teach my little son. Don't spend more than you have. It comes down to that. The people out there, they are smart enough. The voters are very, very smart. Never try to pull wool over the voters' eyes because they can figure it out quickly. They know, the voters know, that there are warehouses of details up there. There are warehouses of knowledge and all that stuff. They have the knowledge. But it is the willingness. Are you willing to make the changes? And I can go up to Sacramento, like I just said earlier to the people. I can go up there and make the changes because I don't owe anyone anything. I can go in there and throw everything off a little because I don't have to owe anyone anything. I'm not beholden to anyone. No special interests or anything. I know they will go crazy. So be it.

JENNINGS: I put it to you that if you're going to stick to your core promises…you're going to go to Sacramento and you're going to have to either cut or borrow or raise.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you forgot the other thing. And this is maybe just because you've never really been in there and run those things. But I mean there is another option which is that you look at the waste that is going on in the government. The billions of dollars. In Medical alone there is billions of dollars of waste. I want to go in there and get real true worker's compensation reform. Not what they have just done. But real true worker's compensation where you cut the costs down. We have so many government employees. You can make a billion dollars right there. Then you go for the Indian money. Then you go for the federal government's money. There's billions everywhere to be found. That's what we have to do. Rather than doing the thing like everyone always does which is 'we have to raise taxes' or 'we have to cut programs.' No, there is a third option. Let's get a little creative here.

JENNINGS: It cannot be easy to spend the last few days of this campaign having to deal constantly with being called a serial groper or a serial abuser of women and being compared in some way your admiration for Hitler. Is that tough?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I get upset about it. But I knew that before I got into this campaign that this is going to be that kind of a situation where people will throw everything at me at the last minute, and the last week and it is going to become a dirty campaign, sleaze campaign. And you know, down to the gutter. And I knew that. Because I was warned. People, political leaders from both parties said, 'You know Arnold, I don't know if you want to do that. Because let me tell you, I've campaigned. I've run for office and all this, and the last week they throw things at you that is embarrassing many times. It's terrible for your family. You may want to think that over because no matter what it is they will find it.'

JENNINGS: Does this mean that none of it's true? (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: Remember with Dick Riordan, calling him the baby killer.

JENNINGS: Does this mean that none of it is true? (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: The fact of the matter is that I realize that this is campaign trickery. And it is dirty campaigning.

JENNINGS: Why is it dirty campaigning?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, because it's not true. Many of those things are not true.

JENNINGS: What is not true?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, for instance, I have despised anything and everything that Hitler stands for. I have been from the time that I was a young kid fought against anyone that has protested for Nazis, or had any kind of Nazi sympathizing, or anything like this. And I campaigned against that. When I came over here I did the same thing. I always was against anything and despised anything that Hitler stood for and what the Nazis stood for. And I'm very sensitive about it because I come from a country where we have a history of that. You know people came up to me many times when I came over here with the hiel Hitler signs and then say the boys from Brazil are coming and all those kind of derogatory, which I understood. But, I'm sensitive about that. So, I've sued the tabloids when they've said anything about me being a Nazi and I've won the lawsuits.

JENNINGS: But you had to know that this was all going to come out in a campaign. It is, after all, your past. It isn't all made up, is it?

SCHWARZENEGGER: You don't hear me complaining. You are just asking me the question. This is part of the campaign. That's what I'm saying. When I got into the campaign, people said, 'Look, you will have some wonderful moments. You will be meeting some interesting people. Smart people. You will be reaching out, and they will look at you with hope and everything like this. But, there will be the bad times. The bumps. The people will start throwing everything at you. And you know that Davis has been known for dirty campaigns. And now I've experience all that stuff. That's what it is. But the good thing about it is that the people are not buying in on it. That is the good thing about it.

JENNINGS: That may be the case. But the question I am just trying to understand is that you say that some of it is not true and some of it you don't remember. What don't you remember and what isn't true?

SCHWARZENEGGER: It doesn't make any sense to go through details here with you. What is important is that I cannot remember what was happening 20 years ago and 15 years ago. But, some of the things sound like me. And this is why I was the first one to come out and say that some of the things could have happened. And I want to apologize to the people if I offended anyone because that was not my intention.

JENNINGS: You think that's enough? (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: And I am sorry, I am sorry about it. Let me tell you something. No one ever came to me in my life and said to me when I did anything, 'I don't want you to do that, and you went over the line.' Now all of the sudden isn't it odd that three days and four days before the campaign, all of sudden all these women want to have an apology. Isn't it odd?

JENNINGS: You are blaming the women? (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I mean, you have common sense Peter. You can figure this out for yourself. Come on now.

JENNINGS: No, you figure it out for me. (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: No, no, no. I'm just trying to tell you. You know it. And I know it. We all know it.

JENNINGS: You think the women are not telling the truth? (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: Of course not. The story today in the LA Times is not true. It's absolutely not true. We had the director of Twins on the phone with the press. We had the producer of Twins on the press and everyone. And everyone said it's absolutely not true, that there was an atmosphere that everyone was worried what was going to happen when I get out of trailer. All of this is nonsense talk. It's mean spirited and it's just trying to derail my campaign.

JENNINGS: Do you know what I was thinking about? I was thinking about the fact that you are a father of little kids and these kids are now going to get teased in school. They are going to think that people say horrible things about their father. They may ask you about it in time. Did you thing about that when you got into the campaign?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes. As a matter of fact, when I got into the campaign, I had long discussions with Maria about all this. And we talked about it. When the campaign gets dirty, that what would that mean. When the kids come home and maybe hear those things. When they see it in the paper. When they see it on television. And we went back and forth. And, that's one of the reasons we were going back and forth with the decision. But in the end, I said to myself, that I think I can bring hope to California, I can change California around and make it stop from this spiraling downward trend and for the hurting economic, and people are hurting, that I can bring leadership to Sacramento. That's in the end is going to be more important. My wife said, Maria said to me 'whatever is in your heart. I know you want to good things for people. I will be behind you. I will be with you all the way and I will be your partner.' That's the bottom line. Maria has been the greatest partner and has been the greatest wife. She's been absolutely incredible.

JENNINGS: Does it make any difference to you at this point what people say about you?

SCHWARZENEGGER: At this point what is important to me is that I move on with the campaign, and that I reach out to the people, and that I talk directly to the people. Because remember that the most important thing is always to deal with the people. That it's between me and the people. It's the same thing with Gray Davis. You know when he talks about debating and all this. You have to debate the people. Gray, I said, you have disappointed the people. You have to go and explain it, and the first category of the ballot is do you want him recalled or not - there's no candidate there. Talk to the people. Explain to them why you have destroyed the economy of California. Why are the businesses leaving? Why do you have this high interest rate?

JENNINGS: But if you are elected on Tuesday you have to deal with the legislature. (OVERLAP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: Why do we have here the worst budget deficit in the history? Why do we have the highest energy costs? Not because we have an energy problem. We have a leadership problem. That's what this is all about. The people are upset and now on October 7th the people are going to say 'hasta la vista Davis.'

JENNINGS: But, if you are elected on Tuesday, you have to deal with the legislature of California. It is Democratically control.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I have no problem with that.

JENNINGS: What makes you think you can have your way with them?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I didn't say I will have my way with them. What I say is, I have no problem with them. Because the people out there, I can work with. Look, it took Democrats and Republicans to make my initiative Proposition 49 win. Republicans alone couldn't have done it. I brought them both together. I went to Bill Lockyer, our Attorney General who is a Democrat, this is the first one I went to, and I said, 'Bill, it was you that started the after-school programs here with Pete Wilson. It was Republicans and Democrats working together. I want to build on that foundation that you've built.' And he endorsed it. And he helped me bring other Democrats together. We worked together and we won. The same was just recently on Capitol Hill with the after-school programs. I was notified that they want to cut, that they have cut $400 million dollars of the after-school programs on the federal level. And I went to Washington. Lobbied, talked to the Democratic leaders, to the Senate, to Diane Feinstein, Teddy Kennedy, and the whole gang. And also the Republicans. And then you know something, testified there a month later. Was filming in Germany Around the World in 80 days, I got a phone call from Congressman Bill Young from Florida and he said, 'Arnold, the $400 million is back for after-school programs.' It was working together with both of them. There is a way of doing it, I'm not saying it's easy. It's going to be tough. Everyone knows that. And you know there is a way… (overlap)

JENNINGS: Why I don't understand, and I think you may, there's no doubt in my mind that you might get away with it. I mean that in purely political terms. What I don't understand is why you don't feel some obligation to tell people the specifics of where you think you might save money. The specifics of where you might have to find money, or cut programs. Isn't it more responsible to tell them what your specific ideas are rather than generalizations?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I already told you that I will find it Medical; I will find it in worker's compensation; we'll find it with the Indian money. We'll find it by going to the federal government for the money. I will find it by finding the waste that is in the government. I will find it because there are so many programs that are overlapping that we can cut, all of those kind of things. You know, agencies, regulatory agencies that are overlapping. Federal government comes in and overlaps with those. All of this is a waste. We have to just get in there. I haven't yet been able to open up the books so this is obviously, up until now, this was specific enough for the people. You see this campaigning is not for you guys. It's not for the journalists. This is for the people, for a change. This is what this campaigning is about.

JENNINGS: I heard a woman this morning on the other campaign say that you cared so much about taxes in California that you bought your plane somewhere else so you didn't have to pay California sales tax on your plane. Is that true?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No, absolutely not. Mine is a deal with Net-Jet. So I didn't go out and buy any plane. Net-Jet buys the planes and we buy a quarter share of the planes. That's the way it works. So this is a game. Look what she's concerned with, about where Net-Jet, Warren Buffet's company, where they have bought the plane. Is that what has destroyed California? Is that what made the economy come down for the last 5 years? And that a million people are now waiting for jobs. Was it that, or was it the lack of leadership up there in Sacramento and the lack of leadership on Gray Davis' part? You see, they're missing, everyone is trying to talk and trying to put the spotlight away from the real problem, and put it on those kind of little nitty-gritty stuff. And you know something? (OVERLAP)

JENNINGS: But life is nitty-gritty.


JENNINGS: Government is nitty-gritty.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Remember, one of the most important thing is having vision.


SCHWARZENEGGER: Peter, vision is the most important thing. I saw myself as a champion when I was 15 years old. I didn't know how to get there yet a 100%, but I knew it, and I got there. And I knew when I was a kid that one day I am going to be like a John Wayne-type of character, an action character out there in the movies and all this stuff, and I became the highest entertainer, the highest paid entertainer in the world. Highest paid actor. You have to have vision, you have to have a goal to go for, and then you struggle, then you work hard, and then this campaign is the same thing. I have a very clear vision of a better California, of a California the way it used to be, when people came here and enjoyed working hard, and making a living and this was like the land of opportunity in California and go and say, I want that to come back like that. That's my vision, and I will get here because I see it very clearly.

JENNINGS: You're an incredibly smart guy and you know the sound of poetry when you hear it, so do I as a journalist, but if you're not prepared to be specific now about the financial dilemma of California, won't you risk being held to a higher standard if you don't succeed?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will achieve my goals. Peter, we will turn California around, the economy will come back, jobs will come back, education will be better, trust me.

JENNINGS: And can California do it in isolation or does it depend on the country coming around, as California suffered along with the rest of the country?

SCHWARZENEGGER: It doesn't work here. You see, this doesn't work with me because this is what Davis has been trying to tell the people, that we are on a down road now and then we will be coming back together with the rest of the country. But remember one thing: California was always ahead of the rest of the country, was always ahead and then all of a sudden during the Davis administration they fell below the line. And this is what I want to do is bring it back again, lift it up and let California be proud again, and say 'yes, we are again the number one exporter.' I mean, look at what is going on here, Texas, which is a great state, but they have beaten us now in being the number one exporter. California was the number one exporter. Because there is no leadership there of what are we going to do with the infrastructure alone. We are spending one percent in infrastructure in this state, and in Texas they have committed just now to a hundred and forty billion dollars of infrastructure, building 4,000 miles of highways and freeways and railroads. That's what you need to make the economy boom because it's all the power of moving people and goods around, is where the power is. This is how you become a big exporter and the big economic force again. That's what we need.

JENNINGS: One term? (pause) One term?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No, I'm not looking at anything. I'm just looking at getting in now and fixing the problems. I'm not looking at the political future or anything like this. There's nothing else. This is a dead end for me; it's trying to fix California. I, this gives me great pleasure, may I remind you, because like I said earlier, that everything that I have is because of California. Everything. I could have gone to 190 different countries in the world. I would have not even gotten 10% of success of what I've gotten here in California, in America.

JENNINGS: We're going to watch you very carefully.


ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events