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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Arnie denies admiring Hitler
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger says he despises everything Hitler stood for
Arnold Schwarzenegger has fended off a flurry of allegations ahead of the California recall vote, admitting to "offensive" behaviour but denying he once admired Hitler.

The actor, who hopes to become Governor of California, apologised after six women accused him of sexual harassment between 1975 and 2000, in an article in Thursday's Los Angeles Times.

Later, in LA, he denied an ABC television report that quoted a 1975 interview in which he allegedly made favourable comments about Hitler.

"I don't remember any of those comments because I always despised everything that Hitler stood for," Mr Schwarzenegger said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
If he is elected, Republicans will be falling over each other trying to position themselves in strategic places
Nelson Bolima, USA

The clutch of accusations came just five days before the landmark 7 October vote that polls suggest will usher the Hollywood icon into the governor's mansion.

A majority of voters favour removing the incumbent governor, Gray Davis, according to a poll on Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times.

Mr Schwarzenegger led the pack of more than 130 candidates vying to replace him, polling 40% support to second-place Cruz Bustamante, the Democrat lieutenant governor, polling 32%.

'I hate Nazis'

But Mr Schwarzenegger's alleged past indiscretions have the potential to be an important issue in deciding the success of his campaign.

Governor Gray Davis
Governor Davis is fighting for his political life
ABC said it had obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a transcript of an interview the actor gave during the filming of "Pumping Iron" which contained the offending Hitler material.

When asked who his heroes were, Mr Schwarzenegger reportedly said: "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power.

"I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it," ABC quoted him as having told an interviewer.

Mr Schwarzenegger said his support for the Jewish lobby group the Simon Wiesenthal Center proved he did not support Nazis.

The author of the book proposal, George Butler, who directed "Pumping Iron," told ABC the quotes needed to be seen in context and that Mr Schwarzenegger never made any anti-Semitic comments.

"I hate the Third Reich and the whole Nazi philosophy," Mr Schwarzenegger said.

'Outrageous'

Earlier, Mr Schwarzenegger confessed to behaviour that "offended people" after the LA Times reported that he sexually harassed women over a 25-year period.

It is alleged that he grabbed their breasts or buttocks, tried to take off a woman's bathing suit, and asked a woman if a particular sex act had been performed on her.

What could you do? He was the highest-paid actor in the world. I was a peon. All you could do was stay away from him
Accuser
A stunned crowd in San Diego listened as Mr Schwarzenegger made a frank admission.

"Those people that I have offended, I want to say to them that I am deeply sorry about that and I apologise because that's not what I'm trying to do," he said.

The LA Times opposes the recall of Mr Davis, and has accused Mr Schwarzenegger of failing to deal seriously with issues affecting the state.

It also said in a 28 September editorial that he "seemed to have only a casual acquaintance with the truth as practised outside Hollywood".

The newspaper says it confirmed that the women had told their stories to other people before Mr Schwarzenegger began his race for governor.

Several people described Mr Schwarzenegger's sense of humour and language as "outrageous, but not mean-spirited".

One stuntwoman who worked with him on a number of films defended him.

"He's fun, extremely intelligent and very professional," she told the newspaper.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Willis
"Arnold Schwarzenegger's main rival seems to be his past"



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