Schwarzenegger red-faced over `very hot' ethnic remark
By Michael R. Blood
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune and The Associated Press
Published September 9, 2006
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized Friday for saying during a closed-door meeting that Cubans and Puerto Ricans are naturally feisty and temperamental because of their combination of "black blood" and "Latino blood."
He said the tape-recorded comments "made me cringe" when he read them in Friday's Los Angeles Times.
"Anyone out there that feels offended by those comments, I just want to say I'm sorry, I apologize," Schwarzenegger said.
The furor comes amid a re-election campaign in which the Republican has tried to mend fences with Democrats and moderates and look more statesmanlike and less like the swaggering action hero he played on screen.
The statements about Hispanics and blacks were captured on a six-minute tape made during a March 3 speechwriting session with his advisers. On it, Schwarzenegger and chief of staff Susan Kennedy speak affectionately of state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and speculate about her nationality.
"I mean Cuban, Puerto Rican, they are all very hot," the governor says on the recording. "They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it."
Garcia, who is Puerto Rican and a Republican, appeared with Schwarzenegger on Friday and said she was not offended by the governor's comments. Garcia earlier told the Times that she often calls herself a "hot-blooded Latina."
Schwarzenegger also said he contacted leaders from ethnic groups, who he said were not upset.
"All of them understood it was an off-the-record conversation," Schwarzenegger said. "It was not meant to be in any negative way."
A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez declined to comment directly on the remark but said the governor "has always been very respectful toward Latinos."
However, Schwarzenegger's Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides, said the governor should "conduct himself with dignity."
"Once again, Gov. Schwarzenegger has used language that is deeply offensive to all Californians and embarrassed our state," Angelides' statement said.
Schwarzenegger aides routinely tape his speechwriting sessions so the writers can keep a record of his thoughts and speaking patterns.
The newspaper did not say how the tape was obtained. The participants suggest during the meeting that they know they are being recorded.