California recall drive heats up

Faced with multiplying allegations of sexual impropriety, Hollywood icon Arnold Schwarzenegger has accused political rivals of dirty tricks instead.

    Schwarzenegger is drawing huge crowds in his campaign

    On a day when four more women brought fresh allegations against the brawny actor-turned-candidate seeking to become California's new governor, Schwarzenegger insisted he would not allow his character to be smeared.

    "I don’t let them tear down my character," he said in course of a bus tour around California.

    Schwarzenegger also launched an offensive against Gray Davis, the Democratic governor whom he wants to replace.

    "Davis is out there saying I am unfit to run the state. He has been unfit to run the state for the last five years," Schwarzenegger said.

    But the controversy over the actor's "lewd" behaviour continued to pursue him in his campaign.

    Outraged womens' groups trailed Schwarzenegger on his bus tour after calling for a criminal probe into the charges.

    Altogether, 15 women have accused the actor so far of sexual misconduct. 

    More allegations

    The Los Angeles Times carried a fresh report on Sunday claiming he had touched four women in a sexual manner without their consent.

    But seemingly unperturbed, Schwarzenegger's camp put up a brave face.

    "The voters are going to see through these last-minute smear tactics, which Gray Davis is known for," his spokesman Karen Hanretty said.

    "I don’t let them tear down my character"

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Schwarzenegger on Thursday had expressed regret, apologising to the initial batch of women who accused him of sexual misconduct.

    Family support

    Wife, Maria Shriver, is standing by the actor.

    She told a campaign rally that Schwarzenegger was "an extraordinary father, a remarkable husband and a terrific human being."

    "He has the character to govern. He has the temperament to govern and he is a leader for all of you," she said.

    Political analysts meanwhile said that the star could still win the electoral race, irrespective of the damaging accusations.

    "He has been slowed but probably not enough to deny him victory," Jack Pitney, a political scientist with  Claremont McKenna College said.

    Opinion polls, conducted before the accusations were leveled, had placed Schwarzenegger ahead of the race with 36% of votes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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