SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) decided to run for governor of California so he can give something back to the state that has given so much to him, the actor-turned-politician told Fox News Friday.
"In my heart it was that I wanted to do something for California. I wanted to give something back because California has given me so many opportunities," he said.
Schwarzenegger, who is running as a Republican in the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search), also told Fox about his plans to solve the California budget crisis.
"The first thing that you have to do is not worry about should we cut the programs or raise the taxes and all those things," said Schwarzenegger, who has an economics degree.
"[We have to] bring businesses back to California. We have the most unfriendly business environment right now in California of any state. Businesses are leaving every day. They're expanding outside of the state. That means that people are getting laid off. Jobs are lost."
Schwarzenegger also told Fox about his views on education.
"I think we have to take care of our children, not cut the programs of our children. You know, the children should have the first call of state Treasury. We need to build more schools. We have to hire more teachers. We have to have more after-school programs so kids have a safe, supervised education environment in the afternoon while the parents are at work, and then of course the third and most important thing is we have to reform the system in Sacramento."
That said, the Terminator said he has always been "fiscally conservative."
"I always believe very strongly that we should not spend more money than we have," Schwarzenegger said. "This is the biggest problem that we have right now in this state."
President George W. Bush lent his support to Schwarzenegger on Friday saying that he thought the former Mr. Olympia would be a good governor for California, though the White House did not indicate whether the president would help out in the campaign.
“I am confident the citizens of California will sort all this out," Bush told reporters at a press conference at his Texas ranch.
Fox News also learned Friday that former California Gov. Pete Wilson (search) will co-chair Schwarzenegger's campaign.
Davis Sinks Deeper
Amid the frenzy of the state's gubernatorial recall drive, one thing appears certain: Davis is sinking deeper into trouble as prominent Democrats abandon him and Republicans rally around the star power of Schwarzenegger.
While Democrats urged one of their own to drop out of the recall election Friday, the list of Republican contenders grew as former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth (search) announced his candidacy a day before the filing deadline.
Ueberroth, who successfully organized the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, said that although he is a registered Republican, he will run an independent campaign. He pledged to serve only the remainder of Davis' term.
Other Republicans on what promises to be a crowded election ballot include businessman Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock.
Two high-level Democrats, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search) and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (search), also announced they would run this week. But some in the party, fearful that a split vote could cost the Democrats the governor's office, were trying to urge one of the candidates to pull out.
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said he had spoken with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (search), state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton and Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson about meeting with the candidates and anointing one as the party's choice in lieu of a primary election.
Garamendi said Friday he was pressured by three fellow Democrats to step aside within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy.
"My comment to them is, 'No, I'm not getting out,"' Garamendi said. "I'm in this race until Oct. 7."
Sherman said he spoke with Garamendi on Friday morning. Asked if he tried to dissuade him, he said, "Not really."
"If either one of them wants to cancel their registration by Saturday, I'll take them out to the fanciest dinner in California," Sherman said of Bustamante and Garamendi.
As Bustamante made his candidacy official Friday by filing papers with the secretary of state's office, he said he hadn't been approached to step aside.
"No, in fact I've been getting a tremendous amount of calls in support saying, 'Thank you for putting your name in,"' Bustamante said.
In entering the race this week, Garamendi and Bustamante broke earlier pledges not to run and dashed Davis' hopes that no top Democrat would challenge him. The state's most popular Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, announced Wednesday she would not run.
Leading Democrats had long resisted the idea of having a Democratic alternative to Davis in the recall election, saying it would hurt the incumbent's chances.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe denied Friday that Democrats are breaking ranks, and said their efforts are focused on keeping Davis in office.
Speaking in Tampa, Fla., McAuliffe said Bustamante assured him that his candidacy is a "safety valve" and that Bustamante's first interest is in defeating the ballot question that would oust Davis.
Recall opponents also are fighting the election in court, but so far have only a string of losses to show for it. On Friday, a judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction halting the election over allegations that petition signatures had been gathered improperly.
Garamendi, undaunted by the prospect of leaders asking him to step aside, launched his first campaign stop at a Los Angeles farmer's market. He criticized the political neophyte Schwarzenegger, who has said he would clean up Sacramento, the capital.
"He doesn't even know where Sacramento is, let alone where the broom is to get it done," Garamendi said.
Garamendi said he will remain in the race even if Bustamante gets the backing of California Democratic leaders, scoffing at the idea that they could influence the race. "There are no governor-makers in the state other than the voters," he said.
Garamendi expected to make his candidacy official Saturday by filing required signatures, a $3,500 filing fee and a candidate statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.