SAN FRANCISCO – Arnold Schwarzenegger (search)'s views on the economy and immigration came under attack Sunday in California's gubernatorial recall campaign, but the GOP front-runner continued to keep a low profile over the Labor Day weekend.
Gov. Gray Davis (search) jabbed at Schwarzenegger's lack of specifics on his economic plan, while state Sen. Tom McClintock (search), the action star's chief Republican rival, chided him for failing to take a no-new-taxes pledge. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search), the only prominent Democrat seeking to succeed Davis if he is recalled, attacked him as anti-immigrant.
"As far as I'm concerned, Arnold's going back to the same wedge-issue politics that his mentor, Pete Wilson, suggested to the state of California. It was a time of division in California," Bustamante said in a televised interview. "He's wrong in doing this, and he's not going to get a pass from me. We're going to take him on."
Schwarzenegger, who came to the United States from Austria during the late 1960s, has acknowledged voting for Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative that denied some social services to illegal immigrants but has since been mostly voided by the courts.
The measure was championed by Wilson, a Republican who was then governor and is now co-chairman of Schwarzenegger's campaign. Schwarzenegger also was criticized last week about his membership on the advisory board of U.S. English, a group that supports making English the country's official language.
In an extensive radio interview, Schwarzenegger declined to give his opinions about affirmative action or Proposition 54, a measure on the Oct. 7 recall ballot that would ban state government from collecting most racial data.
Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Sean Walsh strongly denied Bustamante's accusations.
"The man is an immigrant himself. To say he's anti-immigrant is Orwellian," Walsh said. "The only person talking about wedge-issue politics is Cruz Bustamante and the Democratic Party."
Schwarzenegger remained out of the public light over the weekend, and a campaign co-chair said Sunday that he also would limit his appearances in debates. Four debates are being organized by various groups but Schwarzenegger will appear at just one, an event slated for the third week of September sponsored by the California Broadcasters Association, said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif.
Immigration issues have become a central part of the campaign in recent days as Bustamante, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, has tried to consolidate the state's large Hispanic population around his candidacy. Hispanics represent about 16 percent of California's electorate, and recent polls show significant support for Bustamante among those voters.
But Bustamante also has been forced to respond to criticism over his involvement with an organization that advocated a separate Chicano nation while he was a student at Fresno State University in the 1970s. Bustamante said Saturday he loves his culture but believes racial separatism is wrong.
Davis, appearing on ABC's "This Week," criticized Schwarzenegger for not detailing budget cuts he would make as governor.
"Until he sits in those shoes -- and I don't think he's going to have a chance to -- he's really in no position to criticize what we've done," the governor said.
McClintock, a popular figure among the state's conservative voters, continued his assault on Schwarzenegger for refusing to rule out a tax increase to help balance the state's budget.
"The fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has surrounded himself with the people that he has and the fact that he has refused to take a no-tax pledge leaves me very concerned about the future of California if he's elected governor," McClintock said in a televised interview.
One of Schwarzenegger's economic advisers, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, created a backlash after suggesting that California's property taxes were too low. That forced Schwarzenegger to pledge that he supported Proposition 13, California's landmark 1978 tax-cutting initiative.
On a radio show last week, Schwarzenegger refused to take a no-new-taxes pledge, but said he would raise them only if there were a state emergency.
Davis, Bustamante and McClintock all deflected questions about Schwarzenegger's 1977 interview with Oui magazine, in which he discussed past drug use and used raunchy language to boast about his sexual encounters. In one of those, Schwarzenegger said he and other bodybuilders engaged in group sex with a woman who appeared naked in a gym in Venice, Calif.
The interview has received widespread attention in the last week. When first asked about the article in a radio interview Wednesday, Schwarzenegger responded in part, "Obviously, I've made statements that are ludicrous and crazy and outrageous, and that's the way I always was."