Schwarzenegger promised to slash spendings and not to raise taxes even as an opinion poll tipped him to be the favourite to win the 7 October polls.

"Does this mean that we are going to make cuts? Yes. Does this mean that education is on the table ? No," Schwarzenegger said .

"Additional taxes are the last burden that we need to put on the backs of the citizens and businesses of California," the brawny movie star said.

Promising to nurse California, saddled with a $38 billion budget deficit, back to financial health, Schwarzenegger said he would tell state officials what he taught his six-year child: "Not to spend more money than you have."

But despite his populist posturing, Schwarzenegger indicated the road to recovery for California could be long.

"Additional taxes are the last burden that we need to put on the backs of the citizens and businesses of California"

Arnold Schwarzenegger

"Let me make clear that these problems were not created in two weeks and we will not be able to solve them in two weeks," he said.

Rivals of Schwarzenegger, however, blasted his recovery plans.

"No specifics, no plan, that’s not going to fly," said a member of the team of his Republican adversary, Bill Simon.

But as opinions varied, a survey suggested that Californians were far more unanimous in voting out Governor Gray Davis.

A Public Policy Institute of California survery found 58% wanted to recall the Democrat governor, unpopular over his handling of the state finances.

Schwarzenegger led the race among candidates with 23% of popular backing. The poll had a 3% margin of error.