United States President George W Bush has added to the drama of California's recall election by saying movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a good governor.
Schwarzenegger says he does not need presidential backing
The White House has so far distanced itself from October's vote, but when asked about the Austrian-born actor, Mr Bush said: "I think he'd be a good governor".
Current California Governor Gray Davis faces an unprecedented recall because of his perceived failure to handle the state's spiralling budget deficit.
President Bush is due to visit the state next week to raise money for his own re-election in 2004, but is not scheduled to cross paths with Mr Schwarzenegger.
He confessed to being gripped by the unfolding drama, where more than 500 people have expressed an interest in running for governor.
"It's fascinating to see who's in and who's out," he told reporters at his Texas ranch.
"You know, I'm a follower of American politics. I find what's going on in the state of California very interesting, and I'm confident the citizens ... will sort all this out for the good of the citizenry".
Mr Bush has been known to campaign for fellow Republicans in the past, even stepping in at the last minute to help them to victory.
But 56-year-old Mr Schwarzenegger - best known for his roles in the Terminator films - says he does not need his help.
"As far as I'm concerned, we don't need presidents to come in, we don't need ex-presidents to come in, we don't need other senators from other states coming in," he told the Fox and Friends TV programme.
Mr Schwarzenegger - a Republican with charisma and money to spend on his campaign - is seen by many as standing a good chance of ousting Governor Davis.
President Bush has been known to campaign for fellow Republicans
The deadline for candidates to lodge their applications is 1700 local time on Saturday (0000GMT Sunday), and dozens of hopefuls are lining up.
They include the adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt, porn actress Mary Carey, poster girl Angelyne and former child sitcom star Gary Coleman.
Mr Davis's deputy, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, announced on Thursday that he was entering the race.
Voters face two questions on 7 October - whether to recall Mr Davis, and who should replace him if the recall vote goes through.