SACRAMENTO – The nation's oldest Hispanic civil rights group called on Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) to step down from the advisory board of U.S. English (search), a group that seeks to make English the official language of the United States.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (search) said the Austrian-born actor's position brings into question his commitment to Hispanics. Schwarzenegger's campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"It just seems like all the issues that we support he doesn't," Gabriela Lemus, the league's director of policy and legislation, said Thursday. The league said it is not taking a position on whether Gov. Gray Davis should be recalled and will not endorse a replacement candidate.
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante got the day's campaigning under way in front of a Sacramento gas station, where he called for amending the state constitution to bring big oil companies under state regulatory control.
"Californians are being gouged, and under current law we are powerless to do anything about it," he said, adding he wanted to remind voters they will be paying the highest prices in the nation for gasoline this Labor Day weekend.
"The oil companies explain their behavior the same way Enron did," Bustamante said. "They say it was someone else's fault. ... But what they never say is that their profit margin in California is the highest in the nation."
Other front-running candidates in the race to replace the Democratic governor if he is recalled Oct. 7 were also busy around the state.
Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth (search) was in San Diego to hold the first of several town hall meetings with voters, as was Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock (search) who was to speak on Roger Hedgecock's KOGO radio show.
Davis, Bustamante and McClintock also were meeting with the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, which represents 57 tribal governments. The group will not endorse a candidate, but its members have become an influential political force capable of boosting campaign coffers.
The demand that Schwarzenegger leave U.S. English came as the Republican was embarking on a campaign swing through California's Central Valley, including a stop in Fresno, former hometown of Democrat Bustamante.
The area also includes the nation's most productive farmland and is home to many ethnic groups and immigrants, including Hispanics.
Lemus said Schwarzenegger's membership on the board of U.S. English "does not bode well for Hispanics."
"So many of us support bilingualism and bilingual education and maintaining our culture and he's essentially saying it's not valid by being part of this board that has got this whole anti-immigrant, underlying racist mentality," Lemus said.
Schwarzenegger is just one of many prominent people on the group's advisory board, according to its Web site. Others includes golfer Arnold Palmer, television personality Alex Trebek and actor Charlton Heston
Schwarzenegger spent Wednesday making the rounds of conservative radio talk shows.
During the appearances, he espoused alternately liberal and conservative views, saying he favors legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, some gun control and protecting a woman's right to abortion, but is against gay marriage and granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Schwarzenegger also supported Proposition 187 (search) in 1994, which sought to deny many services to illegal immigrants.
He said Wednesday that undocumented immigrants already in the country should stay here, but he added it was a federal issue.
During his last radio appearance Wednesday, Schwarzenegger also found himself explaining a 1977 interview with a men's magazine in which he frankly discussed life in the gym and his sexual exploits during his days as a world-champion body builder. He said it was not the kind of interview he would give today.
"I never lived my life to be a politician. I never lived my life to be the governor of California," he told Sacramento station KFBK Wednesday night. "Obviously, I've made statements that were ludicrous and crazy and outrageous and all those things, because that's the way I always was. I was always that way, because otherwise I wouldn't have done the things that I did in my career, including the body building and the show business and all those things."