LOS ANGELES – Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) first campaign advertisement, which began airing statewide Wednesday, is a soft pitch that embraces the recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search) -- but lacks specifics some voters say they need to hear from the international film star.
"This historic election has come about because there is a tremendous disconnect between the people of California and the leaders of California," Schwarzenegger says in the opening segment of the 60-second piece.
Schwarzenegger is shown wearing his now trademark open-necked button-down shirt and blue blazer as he strolls through a garden patio. The text then transitions to a slightly populist appeal to voters irked at recent increases in the car tax and talk of more tax increases to balance the state's budget.
"We the people are doing our job, working hard, raising our families and paying taxes, but the politicians aren't doing their job. We can do better than that, after all, we are California."
Schwarzenegger then walks from the garden patio into an office that looks very much like a grand study or low-key governor's or executive's office. From there, Schwarzenegger offers what passes for specific policy proposals at this stage of the campaign.
"I'm running for governor to leave a movement for change and give California back its future. I stand for fiscal responsible government. Rebuilding California's economic engine, putting the needs of children first and reforming our political system... so that the public interest comes before special interest."
As Schwarzenegger stands before a large wooden desk, the camera gradually focuses more tightly for a close-up that nearly fills the screen in and uplifting classic music rises to a swell.
"I want to be the people's governor. I will work honestly, without fear or favor to do what is right for all Californians."
Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said the campaign is delighted the spot will appear the morning after Democratic Gov. Gray Davis blamed the recall election on a right-wing power grab and said the state's energy and economic woes were the fault of President Bush and Republicans in the state Legislature.
"The contrast is unavoidable," Stutzman said. "The debut of the ad coming right after Davis' speech will show Californians you couldn't have a better contrast of what leadership looks like -- how failed leadership manifests itself. This is a leadership election and this is a choice between failed leadership and new leadership."
Internal Schwarzenegger polling shows most voters are attracted to his campaign by sending a new type of leader to Sacramento. The polls also show that Schwarzenegger and top Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search), are in a statistical dead heat.
"What people want to see is a credible leader who can shake things up and if they see that leader, this race is over," said another Schwarzenegger strategist.
Campaign officials say Schwarzenegger ads will remain on the air from Wednesday through the end of the campaign on Oct. 7. The campaign has budgeted up to $2 million a week for campaign commercials.
Subsequent spots will highlight Schwarzenegger's immigrant past and his success as a businessman. Internal polls show these elements of the Schwarzenegger story are less well known but resonate with voters.
The Schwarzenegger campaign also knows that interest in his candidacy will lead cable news networks and entertainment networks to run at least parts of his campaign commercials over and over as part of their recall coverage.
"Californians will see these commercials more times than we actually pay for them to see them," a Schwarzenegger strategist said. "You can be sure of that."