'No Joy In Grayville Tonight'

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, October 7, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, CO-HOST: California may indeed be a heavily Democratic state. But if you combine the support for the two leading Republican candidates in the recall election, as shown in polls as of this morning, you would never know that.

A big majority for the two Republicans combined. But one question was whether that vote would combine or whether it would split enough to allow the Democrats to hold on to the governorship if Gray Davis is recalled.

For a Republican assessment of this issue, we turn to veteran California political activist and strategist, Ken Khachigian, who joins us from Los Angeles.

Ken, nice to see you.

KEN KHACHIGIAN, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hi, Brit.

HUME: Tell me what your sense is about McClintock voters, particularly in the light of the kinds of charges that were leveled against Schwarzenegger in the late stage of the campaign.

One would think that a lot of conservatives…true conservative voters would be offended by some of that stuff.

KHACHIGIAN: Well, anecdotally, what I think is happening, though, is quite the opposite, though. Brit, I think that conservatives, who frankly have the main goal of replacing the governor as their No. 1 priority, probably as these charges came out over the last few days with little extra caution in their mind.

I would say that some of those McClintock votes are probably going to go over to Arnold, if indeed, Arnold is going to lead in this race. Which by all instincts I have is probably going to be true.

So I would think that rather…they may have concerns…but item No. 1 from the very beginning has been to recall the governor. And so that's their…that's the chief priority if you are a moderate, liberal or conservative Republican.

HUME: Well, let's assume for the sake of discussion that he is, in fact, recalled. We have some exit polling earlier that was of interest to me. 

 We showed the favorability ratings of Schwarzenegger among women, 47- 47. Which was striking in light of these charges and that was quite a bit better than Bustamante did. What does that tell you?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, it tells me that Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) has benefited from the fact that he's been a chief spokesman, at least as gotten the most attention from the recall itself.

So that I would think, again, that the emphasis has been on item No. 1 on the ballot, the recall from.

From the very beginning, I think, people have underestimated the depth of concern and anger and frustration at the Davis administration.

And the fact is, that as that anger has been deep and wide and profound. And so I think that the voters…you're going to find that the voters are rather forgiving of some of these charges.

And the fact is, is that there was a lot of inoculation that took place against these charges as we went into the last two or three weeks of the campaign.

HUME: You mean because Schwarzenegger had indicated that a lot of things might come out and womanizing had been on the list?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, not only that, but frankly, I will tell you that having helped Darrell Issa (search) back three months ago, we were predicting some of these late-minute hits ourselves and actually put a commercial on the air talking about Gray Davis' tactics in the past.

So, I think there was ongoing inoculation, not least of which came from the candidate himself.

HUME: What are you hearing around the state from people you're talking to about things that might tell us which way this is going?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, I have to say, I've chatted up with Republican and Democratic friends. Believe it or not, I do have some Democrat friends.

And they're hanging their head. There is no joy in Grayville tonight, I don't think. Just from what I hear them saying. Which means that they may be looking at some of their internal polling.

And then I look at some of the turnout. I've got word that up in San Francisco; it is fairly light, which would have helped the governor and Bustamante.

And that there's pretty heavy turnout in Orange County and in the San Joaquin Valley, which has become increasingly Republican and conservative over the last few years. So, if some of those trends continue, I think it is not going to look good.

And plus I will say this…that the absentee vote, about 20 percent of the vote was already done before any of those charges hit in the L.A. Times. So, that would have probably favored the recall and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

HUME: Now the L.A. Times…this interesting question is how the L.A. Times coming out of all this.

An enormous amount of noise was made accusing the Times of being in league with the Democrats. And while there's some indication that the Democrats may have known ahead of time what The Times was going to do, not much hard evidence that they were behind this, at least what I've seen. What about that?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, I'm going to give The Times a by on getting help from the Democrats on this one because I think this was their own investigative reporting.

I've had my own concerns about The Times in the past. Two of my candidates had late hits by them, a combination of the Democrats and the Times in past elections.

But I think when all is said and done, you know, they'll probably go back to their business and we'll go back to our business.

HUME: All right. Ken, thank you. Great to have you.

KHACHIGIAN: OK. You bet.

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