California Gov. Gray Davis (search) says he's not desperate. But sometimes he sounds like it.
His pitch to San Diego's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce fell flat, as has his strategy to mobilize Democrats against the recall.
For all the attention given to Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) every move in California, the bigger story — at least right now — is Democratic infighting over how to preserve party control of state government.
Some Democrats cling to the hope that they can save the endangered Davis. Many more believe that the fight has already been lost, so the party must rally around Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search).
No single strategy has been settled upon by the Democratic Party.
"We will vote 'no' on a recall, and for the good of our state, vote 'yes' on Cruz Bustamante," said Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer.
The legendarily bland Davis doesn't second that emotion. The governor, once the most prodigious fundraiser in the state, is losing allies by the day. In a significant move, Davis on Friday telegraphed his post-recall strategy if Republicans prevail.
His record has not just been lambasted by the right. It has been lambasted by the left, too.
Green Party candidate Peter Camejo (search) lamented about the lost $30 billion surplus and the other billions Davis is accused of squandering during his tenure as governor — including his purchase of $43 billion in long-term energy.
"It was the worst investment any human has ever made on this planet," Camejo said.
And while Davis attacks the recall as a $66 million boondoggle and a perversion of democracy as a whole, Camejo sees it as an act of prudence.
"To spend $66 million to stop the bleeding to get this whole financial team out of here is a very intelligent investment," he said.
Meanwhile, GOP frontrunner Schwarzenegger continued to draw attention Friday. Big crowds greeted him as he hit the streets to meet with small-business representatives.
"It's fantastic," he said. "It's really great. I want to help them. I want to be the people's governor — for a change."
At this stage, the other 134 candidates combined can't match The Terminator in terms of the crowds drawn and the enthusiasm generated. His campaign intends to move Schwarzenegger across the state, devoting an entire day to each media market and dominating local news coverage — complete with extra Arnold commercials.
The question remains whether the Schwarzenegger campaign can keep up all the buzz and energy it has created and capitalize on the Democratic Party turmoil.
Schwarzenegger, for his part, was brimming with confidence Friday as he moved amidst the throngs, sounding at times as if the election was but a formality.
"I just tell them to hang in there," he said. "We're going to win on Oct. 7 and turn it all around. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's only seven weeks away."