Recap of Saturday, August 23

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 23, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch The Beltway Boys Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Joining us to give us her take on the California recall and how, for instance, Hollywood is responding is journalist Jill Stewart. Her syndicated column, Capital Punishment, can be found at She's a self-described radical centrist, and she's been smack-dab in the middle of the California recall (search) from the very beginning.

Thanks for joining us tonight, Jill.


BARNES: I obviously have to ask you first about Arnold Schwarzenegger (search). He had that smashing press conference several days ago. Where does he stand? Is he the clear front-runner? It would seem that would be the case to me.

STEWART: I don't think you can call him the clear front-runner, because right now there are 32 percent undecided, and so front-runner is kind of meaningless. People are holding back and watching. You have Cruz Bustamante (search), who's the lieutenant governor.

The other question, of course, is, he's a lot like Governor Gray Davis (search), same kind of politics, more to the left, unions backing him, the same people who demanded all the budget cuts not be made this year, and who put us into a lot of the problems we're in.

Then you have Schwarzenegger. He's an unknown. I'll tell you, he handled the media very deftly this week. I thought they were going to just crawl all over him, but he was, he was really in command of that room. It was somewhat impressive.

But the…the undecideds are in control right now, that's 32 percent of voters.

BARNES: That is a lot. Let me ask you about some of the Hollywood types. I've read that some of them, like Tom Hanks and Woody Harrelson and Martin Sheen and some of the lefties out in Hollywood, not Rob Lowe, of course, who's for Schwarzenegger, but they're going to start campaigning against him. Is that right?

STEWART: Yes, and it's…yes, it's not going to be a surprise to see the serious left of Hollywood come out against any Republicans. That's how they think. California's really partisan, and the Democratic Party here is incredibly narrow-minded. You cannot be in this city, really, and in this state, a moderate Republican without getting a lot of whacking from the Democrats.

I saw it happen to Richard Riordan (search) as the mayor of Los Angeles. The city council here wouldn't give him the time of day, even though he was very open to a lot of their programs. You're going to see Hollywood do that to a large extent to Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though he's open to some of their ideas.

He may be their best bet, but I think they're going to really dump on him.

JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Jill, former governor Pete Wilson (search) has been an albatross around the necks of Republicans in California ever since he took on the Hispanics with the benefits to illegal immigrants. And now he's running Schwarzenegger's campaign. So what does that mean for Arnold and the immigrant vote?

STEWART: Well, he's not running Schwarzenegger's campaign. Schwarzenegger has an incredibly varied team. I've never seen anything like it. It's very interesting. It runs from Democrat to Republican. He's known Pete Wilson for many years. He's listening to some of Pete Wilson's ideas, not all of them.

Schwarzenegger voted for Proposition 187, even though he had some reservations about it, as many people did who voted for it. But people were desperate for some kind of fix, because the federal government will not help California with this massive influx of illegal immigrants. We have 3, you know, million of them now, and it's costing. It's a major part of why California has this massive budget deficit, but you're not allowed to talk about it in...

WILLIAMS: Well, Jill...

STEWART: ... California because you will be called a racist. We'll see if Schwarzenegger has the nerve to talk about it in public. I would like him to.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think it'll be interesting if he does, because I think immigrant politics are a key part of what happens in that race.

A second interesting part...

STEWART: You're right.

WILLIAMS: ... is, what's going on inside the Democratic Party with Senator Dianne Feinstein (search) taking on the lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante? Where's the bad blood there?

STEWART: Well, this is fascinating. Dianne Feinstein had a lot of bad feelings about the attempt to recall her when she was the mayor of San Francisco. Personal bad feelings, terrible bad feelings. She feels very close to Gray Davis because of this, even though she doesn't like Gray Davis very much.

She's come out swinging for him. She's his biggest supporter. She's going to do an ad for him that's going to come out very, very soon. She's the only major Democrat really in California saying, still saying vote no on the recall, and don't vote for anyone on that other side, don't vote for Cruz Bustamante.

She's all alone. It's a fascinating situation for her, because she doesn't even agree with what Gray Davis has done...

WILLIAMS: Well, one last... what about...Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor, and his relationship with, of course, the governor, Gray Davis? How are they working in Sacramento, given that, really, Cruz Bustamante has jumped ship?

STEWART: Well, these two men have very small-minded attitudes toward one another as well as just their whole approach to the budget deficit. Neither one of them took any action.

Cruz Bustamante, of course, has a very…just a ceremonial role. Gray Davis was unable to get the Democrats to listen to him. They themselves do not speak to one another and haven't for four years. They ran into each other the other day in the garage of the building and looked the other way, and a bunch of journalists saw it happen.

It's amazing how much dysfunction there is in the Democratic Party. And these two men sort of typify it. And if that begins to rub off in the campaign and voters see it, it's going to hurt Cruz Bustamante.

BARNES: And Jill, how involved is Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria, in his campaign? She's a Democrat, of course.

STEWART: Well, you have to hope not too much, although I think…get very involved. But everybody's sort of praying, you know, Don't listen to the Democrats, you know. And all the people on that Republican side. You know, of course he's asking his wife questions. How can you help that?

But, you know, the thing about people who've never run for office is, they make the mistake of listening to everyone instead of listening to their professionals. I saw Richard Riordan do it last year. It killed him to listen to the nonprofessionals, changed mind every two weeks or so.

We'll see, because we don't know yet. Schwarzenegger hasn't really done all the campaigning he needs to do. You know that for a fact, you've heard about how long he took to give interviews to reporters. He's now...starting to tell some of his detail. This is all...about to happen in the next couple of weeks.

WILLIAMS: Jill, so we're wrapping up right now. Let's get it hard and fast from you. You got good eyes out there. Who's the winner in California?

STEWART: Completely unknown. It could be one of the people getting 5 percent right now. Could be Tom McClintock or Bill Simon. Nobody knows.

WILLIAMS: Nobody knows. All right, Jill, thanks so much.

STEWART: You're welcome.

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