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Schwarzenegger Regrets ‘Very Hot’ Remark

September 9, 2006

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized Friday for saying in a closed-door meeting that the mixture of Hispanic and black blood gives Puerto Ricans and Cubans ``very hot″ personalities.

The Republican governor said he cringed when he read his own words in the Los Angeles Times story on Friday and added that the comments, referring to a GOP legislator, were not ``meant to be in any negative way.″ Some critics were outraged, but even some Democrats said his remarks appeared to be more playful than disparaging.

``Anyone out there that feels offended by those comments, I just want to say I’m sorry, I apologize,″ Schwarzenegger told reporters outside a seaside hotel in Santa Monica.

The statements about Hispanics and blacks were captured on a six-minute tape made during a March 3 speechwriting session between Schwarzenegger and 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.″

Schwarzenegger, in a tight re-election race, has displayed a more restrained, statesmanlike demeanor while all but retiring his trademark Hollywood swagger. But the newly disclosed remarks challenge that carefully managed image and provide a reminder of his history of off-the-cuff _ and sometimes off-color _ remarks.

He once called California legislators ``girlie men″ and talked of kicking nurses’ ``butts,″ the kind of comments he has sought to avoid during his re-election year.

Garcia, who is Puerto Rican, 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 called leaders from ethnic groups, who he said were not upset.

The Democrat who wants to unseat him, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, said the governor ``used language that is deeply offensive to all Californians.″

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Schwarzenegger’s ``racist comments were disgusting,″ while Esteban Torres, chairman of the National Latino Media Council, called the remarks ``an enormous slip of the Schwarzenegger tongue.″

But Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, a Democrat who chairs the state Legislative Black Caucus, called the remarks ``usual political banter. We do this all the time. In this case, it just happened to be taped.″

``These are hardly Nixon’s Watergate tapes,″ said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat.

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.

___

Associated Press Writers Peter Prengaman in Los Angeles, and Samantha Young, Juliet Williams, Laura Kurtzman and Robin Hindery in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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