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Gov. Calls Democrats ‘Addicts’

Times Staff Writer

In a fiery speech to Republican faithful Friday evening, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ridiculed Democrats as wasteful spending “addicts” who have been taking “sleeping pills,” and he characterized California’s problems as stemming from “evil.”

The speech before about 1,000 people at a convention of the California Republican Party -- a traditionally conservative crowd of stalwarts -- featured Schwarzenegger’s sharpest rhetoric to date as he prepared for a possible special election in November that would shake up state government.

The governor said the Democrat-controlled Legislature has refused to solve serious structural problems with the state budget and its political machinery.

“Now we are going to the source -- right there where all the evil is -- and we’re going to fix this problem once and for all,” Schwarzenegger said. “We’re going to say this reform is going to happen because now we have a governor who represents the people’s interests instead of special interests.”

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Schwarzenegger said Democrats in the Legislature “did not get the message” of the 2003 recall. “If they had been on the ballot, they all would have been recalled.”

He said they wanted to raise taxes and spend more money than the state has.

“You know why they don’t get the message? Because we are dealing here with addicts. Even if they try, they cannot stop spending money,” the governor said. “That is why the people of California have sent me here -- to be the outside intervention.”

Schwarzenegger joked about a recent TV movie on his political and bodybuilding career, “See Arnold Run,” saying Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) had requested equal time and his own movie.

“The network started production on a movie about Fabian’s career,” Schwarzenegger said to laughter. “But they already shut it down because it’s already over budget.”

After the speech, some Democrats said the governor should tone down his words and work to pass the 2005-06 state budget.

“Democrats look forward to moving beyond partisan rhetoric and working to balance the budget,” said Vincent Duffy, a spokesman for Nunez. “The use of the word ‘evil’ in a policy debate is the ultimate in partisan politics.”

Schwarzenegger’s proposals for sweeping change in state government include putting new state workers and teachers into 401(k) plans, letting an independent panel -- rather than legislators -- determine voting districts, installing merit pay for teachers and capping government spending with automatic restraints.

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Democratic lawmakers said they would hold their first hearing on the governor’s package by the end of the month. Schwarzenegger, who introduced his plan a few weeks ago, asked whether the Legislature was taking “sleeping pills” and said he was running out of patience.

The governor has said that if the Legislature did not pass his proposals and put them on the ballot for voters to approve, a series of initiatives written by his allies and endorsed by Schwarzenegger would be readied on the same subjects.

The Legislature has until April 29 to put something on the ballot.

“Now what we are going to do is, we are going to go to the people,” Schwarzenegger said to big applause. “Let them go ahead and do whatever they want. The train has left the station.”

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Schwarzenegger began his speech with some rhetorical red meat for the conservative crowd, making a joke about the family of his wife, Maria Shriver. He said it was amazing that the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl again, adding: “It’s great to see a New England dynasty that is not the Kennedys.”


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