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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Schwarzenegger defends his record
By Peter Bowes
BBC News, Los Angeles

Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) debates with Phil Angelides
Arnold Schwarzenegger is well ahead in the opinion polls
Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken part in a live TV debate with his challenger for the job of California governor.

Democrat Phil Angelides challenged the former movie star over his record on the economy and illegal immigration.

It took the form of a television chat show, with questions supplied by voters through a website.

The moderator encouraged the candidates to argue, though there were few direct clashes in the debate broadcast live on 40 TV stations around California.

Three years to the day since the one-time body builder took office, the Republican governor, who is well ahead in the opinion polls, faced sharp criticism from his opponent.

Bush and Clinton

Phil Angelides, who is currently the state treasurer, said Arnold Schwarzenegger had not done the right thing by middle-class families in California.

He accused the governor of not living up to his promise to repair the economy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said the state was in much better shape - he had reduced California's debts and created jobs.

On immigration, the governor defended his tough stance on patrolling the border with Mexico.

Phil Angelides attempted to link the governor with President George W Bush, who is deeply unpopular in California.

The state treasurer compared himself to Bill Clinton.

At one point, Arnold Schwarzenegger likened his opponent to Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, who is his wife Maria Shriver's uncle.

He joked: "I feel a little bit like I'm having dinner with Uncle Teddy at Thanksgiving".

Mr Angelides responded: "He's a great man. If my grandmother could hear me being compared to a Kennedy..."

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