Los Angeles Two leading California Republicans threw their support behind Arnold Schwarzenegger in the state's gubernatorial recall Thursday, a day after the political novice held his own in a barb-filled debate.
Former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon announced Thursday that he was endorsing Schwarzenegger, and Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the drive to get the recall on the ballot, planned to do the same today at an appearance with the actor, a Republican source said.
"I am here to endorse Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is the right man to be governor of California," Simon told a town hall meeting.
The endorsements provide a key boost to Schwarzenegger's candidacy with only a week and a half remaining until the election. They also put more pressure on conservative Republican Sen. Tom McClintock to fall in line behind Schwarzenegger's candidacy -- something he has refused to do.
Although he did not directly call on McClintock to drop out, Simon, a conservative businessman, said it was time for Republicans to unite behind their front-running candidate and noted he himself left the race last month when he was behind in the polls.
McClintock vowed in TV interviews Thursday that he was not going anywhere.
"I don't know what it is that people find so astonishing about a politician who actually keeps his promises," McClintock told Fox News. "I promised at the beginning of this campaign that I would see it through to the finish line, and I keep my promises."
The endorsements came as campaigning by the major candidates in the Oct. 7 election resumed at a frenetic pace after their debate Wednesday night.
Gov. Gray Davis, who as the target of the recall was not invited to the debate, accused Schwarzenegger of distorting his record and the state's problems and hinted that he would challenge the actor to a one-on-one debate if he did not stop.
"Arnold, get your facts straight. If you want to be governor of this state, don't run it down," Davis said.
"If he doesn't set the record straight himself, I might have to debate him," said Davis, who later appeared at an event in Burbank where he raised the debate prospect again.