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Calif. Gubernatorial Candidate Arianna Huffington

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, September 15, 2003.

Watch On the Record every weeknight at 10 p.m. ET!

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CANDIDATE FOR CA GOVERNOR:  September 24, I will be debating.  Remember when I came over here and I was competing in body-building?  I didn't go to the Mr. Venice Beach contest or the Mr. Chicago contest.  I went to the Mr. Olympia contest, to the No. 1 contest.  And the debate on September 24 is the Super Bowl of all debates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN:  Arnold Schwarzenegger's rival, Arianna Huffington, joins us from Los Angeles.  Welcome, Arianna.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (I), CANDIDATE FOR CA GOVERNOR:  Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Arianna, are you happy with what the U.S. Court of Appeals has done or unhappy, about the recall election?

HUFFINGTON:  I'm really happy, Greta.  It's really good news for the people of California.  And it's actually good news for the nation because we haven't paid enough attention on the fact that a lot of the machines around the country are broken.  You may know that we passed the Help America Vote Act (search) in October of 2002, but we haven't funded it properly.  We're not taken it seriously.  And that's always what happens.  Right after an election or right before, as is happening now, you have this outcry about obsolete machines and how many people are going to have their votes not counted, and then it's forgotten.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But [USC Law Professor and FNC Contributor] Susan Estrich raises sort of an interesting issue, -- it is that no one squawked when it was used to elect Governor Davis.  I mean, you know, it sort of loses its sort of grandiose thought, "Let's make sure everyone gets to vote and the vote is counted," when it seems to be in many instances -- I mean, you know, you let it -- it gets -- people let it slide once in a while.

HUFFINGTON:  Well, absolutely.  People let it slide all the time.  That's exactly the problem because there is no special interest that can gain from it.  But right now there is, the people who want to delay this election until March.  And this is actually good news for those who want to clean up the mess that our election machines have become, and the fact that so many people are disenfranchised, as a result.  You know, in 2000, almost 6 million people didn't have their votes counted, not just in Florida but across the nation.  So that is very good news for that reason.

Also, in terms of this particular race, it's good news because the public will have more time to scrutinize the front runners.  It will be very hard for Schwarzenegger to keep refusing to debate except on September 24 and to keep running on platitudes and name recognition.  And also...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN:  Arianna, he is debating on September 24.  I mean, he is.  I mean, he's going to be grilled, I imagine, quite aggressively.  But I mean, you can't -- he's going -- he has said that he will -- he'll be there on the 24th.

HUFFINGTON:  But Greta, there are six debates.  We've already had two.  We're having another on Wednesday.  Everybody's participating except Arnold.  And the debate on the 24th is the only debate where they are giving us the questions in advance.  You know, I've been debating since I was 19 years old.  I have never been given the questions in advance, whether it was a high school debate, a college debate, let alone a debate among candidates for the governorship of California.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Does the added time until March help Governor Davis?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, frankly, Greta, I've always thought Governor Davis's recall was a 50-50.  I never thought it was better than that or worse than that.  It definitely helps candidates like myself because we have more time to connect with voters.  My Web site, votearianna.com, has more time to attract support, both in terms of volunteers and funding.  And as I said earlier, there is more time to scrutinize the front runners.

VAN SUSTEREN:  So you think it helps you, helps Governor Davis but hurts Arnold Schwarzenegger.

HUFFINGTON:  As I say, I don't know whether it helps or hurts Governor Davis.  I think it may help him because the election will be in March, if the Supreme Court refuses to intervene or upholds the decision.  In March is going to be a Democratic primary, so obviously, there will be a lot more Democrats out voting.  But you know, the mystery about this recall election, Greta, has always been who is going to turn out to vote.  That's why the polls are so meaningless because they are only looking at likely voters, and nobody knows who the likely voters will be in this election.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you think it's realistic to think that California will get rid of the punch card (search) and be ready to go in March?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, but we are absolutely set to have the punch card gone by March.  That's already in progress.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you have the money?

HUFFINGTON:  The money has been allocated, yes.  The question is whether the nation as a whole will appropriate the money needed, which is expected to be $3.9 billion, to have that obsolete system gone all across the nation by 2004.  That's what I doubt.

VAN SUSTEREN:  What about [Republican candidate] State Senator [Tom] McClintock?  How does -- how does this have -- what impact does this have on his campaign, from a strategy point of view?

HUFFINGTON:  I think it's good news for Senator McClintock because even though his views are very much to the right, he is very smart.  He therefore presents a clear contrast to Schwarzenegger, who is clearly not prepared.  And he's refusing to debate McClintock.  McClintock has challenged him during the GOP convention over the weekend to a one-on-one debate, and Schwarzenegger, not surprisingly, refused.

VAN SUSTEREN:  In the last 25 seconds we have left, Arianna, will the debate on September 24 go forward if the recall election is not held in October?

HUFFINGTON:  You know, I don't know, Greta.  The broadcast association that's holding the debate in Sacramento may decide to postpone it until closer to the March election.  That's going to be their decision.  I hope it'll go forward, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's postponed.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  Well, we're all watching...  It's quite a race.  Thank you, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you, Greta.

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