Wed, Oct 01, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Arnie's camp accused of dirty tricks

AP , SANTA MONICA

The feud between California's Governor Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger escalated as the governor's campaign accused the actor's handlers of engaging in "dirty tricks" by plotting to disrupt a Davis event.

The sniping came as Schwarzenegger picked up the endorsement of the state Republican Party's board of directors, an endorsement downplayed by the other major Republican in the race because it didn't come at the par-ty's convention.

Davis spokesman Peter Ragone said the governor's campaign had obtained an e-mail showing that the Schwarzenegger camp was trying to stack one of the governor's town-hall meetings "with shills for their campaign, Republicans who would disrupt and attack the governor."

"We find that deeply troubling and deeply disrespectful to the process," Ragone said, terming the tactic "dirty tricks."

Schwarzenegger spokesman Sean Walsh said the campaign had no role in any effort to disrupt the Davis town-hall meeting being broadcast Monday on Univision, a Spanish-language television network. He said the campaign obtained four seats for allies who would observe the event and offer a response afterward but they would not disrupt the meeting or ask the governor any questions.

"Our response is it sounds like the wheels are flying off the car of the Davis campaign, and if this is a town hall open to the public, why shouldn't voters if they're Republican voters go hear what the governor has to say," Walsh said.

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party's ruling board unanimously voted to endorse Schwarzenegger during a special meeting at the party's Burbank headquarters.

Chairman Duf Sundheim said the announcement was the equivalent of the party recognizing Schwarzenegger as the Republican nominee. The other main Republican in the race, state Senator Tom McClintock, dismissed the endorsement, saying it should have been done in the open at the party's convention.

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