Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Buffett adds fiscal muscle to Schwarzenegger bid

REUTERS , SAN FRANCISCO

Seeking to add muscle to his team, Arnold Schwarzenegger named financial heavyweight Warren Buffett his senior economic adviser on Wednesday as the actor prepared a high-profile run for California governor.

Late in the day, state election officials certified a final list of 135 candidates after rejecting more than 100 applications as incomplete. In its final form, the roster becomes the longest list of candidates to run for governor in state history.

Schwarzenegger was assured a place in the crowded field that ranged from serious politicians to pornographers. Schwarzenegger received a boost with Buffett on board, pairing a movie star completely untested in politics with a Wall Street sage who is the world's second richest man.

"Warren is helping me bring together a world-class team to assist me in addressing the problems and challenges facing businesses, investors and job creators in California," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Warren has a common sense approach to business issues and an integrity that is unmatched. That's the same way I want to approach governing."

Democratic Governor Gray Davis, unpopular because of the state's fiscal crisis, faces a recall vote on Oct. 7, the first against a governor in the state's history. Should voters recall Davis, Schwarzenegger, who is ahead in polls among alternate candidates, could take over the richest US state.

After a blast of publicity since first joining the race a week ago, the former bodybuilder and top box-office draw, Schwarzenegger has in recent days concentrated on putting together his campaign team.

Naming Berkshire Hathaway chairman Buffett, whose father served in Congress, could add gravitas to a campaign that has shown more Hollywood glitter than policy heft so far.

"I have known Arnold for years and know he'll be a great governor," said Buffett, one of America's best-known and most respected investors.

Davis' spokesman appeared surprised by the news.

"I don't think people are voting on advisers," Peter Ragone said.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that Schwarzenegger had "shaken up" his campaign staff, but his spokesman Sean Walsh denied that characterization.

"There is no staff shake up, there is just the addition of people to make sure this campaign is world class," he said.

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