Associated Press (Sacramento)
(CBS/AP) -- Blaming his faulty
English, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday said he misspoke when he
suggested that California's border with Mexico should be closed to help solve
the nation's illegal immigration problem.
Schwarzenegger made the remark while speaking to newspaper editors and
publishers Tuesday. He said he intended to say the border should be secured.
"Yesterday was a total screw-up in the words I used," the Republican said at a
news conference. "Because instead of closing, I meant securing. I think maybe my
English, I need to go back to school and study a little bit."
In a speech at the annual meeting of the Newspaper Association of America,
Schwarzenegger said, "Close the borders in California and all across Mexico and
in the United States. Because I think it is just unfair to have all those people
coming across, have the borders open the way it is, and have this kind of lax
Schwarzenegger's contrition seemed to quell the issue at the Capitol. Hispanic
lawmakers — many of whom are also rival Democrats — said they accepted his
"I don't think the governor identifies himself with that kind of rhetoric," said
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat. "I don't know why he said it, but I'm
very pleased he has totally removed himself from those folks who espouse that
kind of hatred."
Nunez's office, however, pointed out that Schwarzenegger said something very
similar in a 2003 interview with Fox TV host Bill O'Reilly.
Meanwhile, a California Assembly committee is trying to snuff out
Schwarzenegger's habit of lighting up cigars in the Capitol courtyard.
The panel approved a measure to ban smoking in enclosed courtyards of state
buildings, including the one where Schwarzenegger put up a "smoking tent."
Democratic Assemblyman Juan Vargas said the bill isn't aimed at the Republican
governor although it would cover him. He said smoke can get trapped in
courtyards, posing health risks for nonsmokers.
But Assemblyman George Plescia, a Republican, said nonsmokers aren't forced to
go to courtyards where people may be smoking. "It's just as easy to walk to the
other side of the building," he said.
Schwarzenegger's office said he hasn't taken a position on the bill.
California already bans smoking inside public buildings and within 20 feet of an
entrance to those facilities.