Schwarzenegger delivers apology

Calif. governor attributed temperament of Latina state lawmaker to ethnicity

September 09, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized yesterday for saying the lone Latina Republican lawmaker in California had a "very hot," fiery personality because of her ethnicity, a comment captured on audiotape last spring in his private office.

The governor made his apology in Santa Monica, Calif., standing next to Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, the lawmaker Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discussed. Garcia's parents were from Puerto Rico.

"Anyone out there that feels offended by these comments, I just want to say I'm sorry," Schwarzenegger said.

"The fact is that if I would hear this kind of comments in my house, by my kids, I would be upset, and today, when I read it in the papers, it's something when you say things, but it is another thing when you read it in the paper.

"It made me cringe. It made me feel uncomfortable. And so this is why I thought I should come out and address the issue right away."

On the recording, Schwarzenegger describes Republican legislators as the "wild bunch" and, referring to Garcia, casually says that "black blood" mixed with "Latino blood" equals "hot."

"I mean, they are all very hot," the governor says on the audio recording. "They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it." Garcia said there was no need for Schwarzenegger to apologize.

Schwarzenegger said he had called several Latino and black community leaders to discuss his taped remarks with them, but did not name them. He said they understood the remarks were part of an "off-the record conversation, and it was not meant to be in any negative way."

The six-minute recording, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, captures a meeting with some members of his inner circle last spring.

At the time, Schwarzenegger was struggling to persuade Republican lawmakers to embrace his plan to place billions of dollars in borrowing on the November ballot.

Schwarzenegger occasionally records private meetings so that speechwriters, in particular, can keep a record of his thoughts and cadence.

This audio recording consists mainly of relaxed banter among Schwarzenegger and a few aides, and it offers an unusually candid look at his administration when the doors are closed.

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