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Recordings Include Governor's Remarks On Lawmakers, Immigrants

Recordings of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reveal the Republican griping about Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, expressing sympathy for Mexican immigrants and describing his wife's reviews of his speeches.
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Recordings of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reveal the Republican griping about Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike and expressing sympathy for Mexican immigrants, but saying they should embrace the United States. In one of the recordings released Sunday, he complains that Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, with whom he has cooperated on efforts to rebuild California's infrastructure and fight global warming, was at times a "political operator" who would tell Schwarzenegger one thing behind closed doors and say something else in public.

He also describes Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, an Oakland Democrat, as "a very sick man."

"Perata is trying to derail everything. He's still fuming, and he's trying to be obstructionist," the governor said.

Perata said Monday that politicians must be "thick-skinned."

"It just doesn't matter much to me," said Perata. "It doesn't make any difference to me."

Schwarzenegger and his aides are also heard saying their biggest problem is with Republican legislators who they believe lack a long-term vision for California and are concerned only with small projects that will help their districts.

At one point, Schwarzenegger seemingly becomes annoyed when recalling negotiations over infrastructure bonds with members of his own party. Democrats hold majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

"I said, 'Now is when we have a chance here, and you want to have it all perfect. It won't happen. You're not the majority.' I said, 'When does that get into your mind? You're not the majority,'" Schwarzenegger says.

Nunez's spokesman, Steve Maviglio, said the speaker would have no comment about the audio files. A Perata spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment late Sunday.

The recordings were made in March 2006 in the governor's Capitol office, mostly to generate ideas for writing speeches.

A segment was leaked to the Los Angeles Times during last year's election by the campaign of Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides. In that clip, Schwarzenegger said a mixture of black and Hispanic blood can give people a fiery temperament.

He apologized.

The Times obtained more of the recordings Sunday, just two days after the California Highway Patrol found the Angelides campaign did nothing wrong in obtaining the audio files. The CHP said the recordings were accessed through a publicly available section of the governor's Web site.

The leak of the additional audio tapes prompted the governor's office Sunday night to release the transcripts of more than three hours of private conversations. Schwarzenegger's communications director, Adam Mendelsohn, blasted their leak to the Times.

"This type of behavior is exactly why people have such a low opinion of politicians," he said, referring to Angelides and his campaign staff.

He said the tapes largely show a governor who is "thoughtful, concerned and focused on solving some of California's most serious problems."

In one recording the governor expresses compassion for the immigrants who come to the U.S. looking for a better life while also criticizing those who refuse to assimilate.

The governor compares his post-World War II upbringing in Austria with plans to build a border fence with Mexico, a proposal he has opposed.

"We had the Berlin Wall; we had walls everywhere. But we always looked at the wall as kind of like the outside of the wall is the enemy," he said. "Are we looking at Mexico as the enemy? No, it's not. These are our trading partners."

The recordings include the governor's musings about his wife's input on his speeches.

"She is relentless," he said in reference to Maria Shriver's reviews of his speeches. "I can only talk about hings for so many times because then I like to lock it in, even if it's not perfect? But she goes until the last day? I said, 'Maria, it's over. It's in the teleprompter.'"

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