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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Schwarzenegger on the Hill

Aired October 29, 2003 - 10:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to take you live to Capitol Hill right now, where the speaker of the house is talking. Actually that's David Dreier. That's Congressman David Dreier of California. They're waiting on Governor-Elect of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to come to the microphones.
And Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger is actually going there to meet with the congressional delegation. Congressman David Dreier is one of those in that delegation. Obviously, one of the big topics of discussion today will be federal funding disaster assistance for people suffering from the California fires.

Here is the governor-elect.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Thank you very much, Congressman David Dreier. Thank you, Speaker for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I really appreciate that.

Yes, I came basically to Washington to establish relationships and to make sure that we'll be getting more federal money for California as I promised in my campaign.

But of course, the recent events, the huge, disastrous fire, has changed my mission a little bit that I'm now I'm looking for federal money for the people, for the victims of the fire. So that people can rebuild their homes and rebuild their businesses as quickly as possible.

We have a gigantic fire that has now destroyed over half a million acres in California, in southern California. It has this destroyed 1,500 homes, 15 people have lost their lives. So we have to get help as soon as possible.

I really appreciate the work that Governor Davis has been doing. In last week, he has been keeping me up-to-date after talking to him daily, and keeping me up to date on the situation with the fires. I talked to him last night again.

I also want to thank President Bush for the for declaring it major disaster area in the short period of time. That means that there's federal money now available from FEMA for people to rebuild their homes and their businesses.

And, so I'm just here, basically to work very hard to get more money to California so we can control this fire and also them rebuild the businesses and the homes of people that have lost them. I think it is extremely important for a relationship, again, relationship (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the federal government and the state. And I want to thank everyone. I want to thank again Undersecretary Brown today from FEMA.

We had a terrific meeting this morning who promised me they'll set up one-stop centers which is so important so that people can go to those centers and apply for loans or apply for grant money. And so I think there's a great cooperation going on between FEMA and California and everyone is working together which I'm very pleased about.

If you have any questions, please feel...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... are you asking for? What, specifically are you asking for in the way of money both for California to share that you did talk about and then for disaster money?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Right now, it's disaster money to make sure that FEMA comes through with the money.

And the most important thing as Governor Davis has told me before I left California for Washington is to get those one-stop centers set up. That's the most important thing so people have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) place to go where they can apply for the loans or for grant money. And I've asked today FEMA and they are establishing those (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by this weekend. Most of the centers will be established.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: How will the fire put a crimp in or change your plans to begin getting going once you're in office? How this will make it more difficult to enact some of the plans you wanted to do in terms of cuts and budgeting and all of that?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, we are right now in the middle of the disaster. So I think we have to evaluate what the damage will be. Some people say it's already $2 billion damage. We don't know how long this fire's going to continue on.

The most important thing right now is that we all work together. That we get as fast as possible big planes in there to drop, you know, water on this fire, that we control the fires so that the homes and the businesses don't get destroyed.

Right now it's a very dangerous stage, the fire, because it depends where the winds come from and all that.

So I have been out there with my wife. My wife visited shelters already. I've been out there visiting the firefighters and seeing the fires myself.

So it's really -- what we have to do is contain the fires right now. QUESTION: Some Democrats who are upset at the idea that a Republican can come in here and suddenly get more notice and more money out of a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican White House than Governor Gray Davis could. What is your response to that?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I don't think that the fire victims right now and the fire -- anyone that cares about Democrats or Republicans. I think what is important right now is that we all work together. The Democrats and Republicans alike work together to help California. That's the key thing here.

QUESTION: Well I'm not talking about fire money, sir. It's, you know, the overall budget crisis in California. They believe that as a Republican you are getting special treatment.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't think that I will get special treatment. I think it will be good treatment (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because I think that the federal government, if it's Republicans and Democrats, they all have an interest in California.

California is a very important state. And where our economy does well, the rest of the country's economy's going to do well. And I will do everything that I can. And I said I will come here as many times as possible to make sure we get more federal money to California.

QUESTION: Do you think as a Hollywood star you're getting special treatment. There are a lot of members here...

SCHWARZENEGGER: Maybe they'll buy more DVDs.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't know what special treatments.

QUESTION: Mr. Governor-Elect, next year is election year. What help do you give to get the Republicans in California, especially the president?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think that it is very important that we all work together. I think that, as I said just earlier in the speech, that there's a lot of money that can be -- that can come to California from the federal government.

And I think that is the key thing here is that we work together, that we help California and in turn, we can help the party.

But I'm, of course, a Republican as you know, and I will always help the Republican Party because that's my party.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... the one-stop centers. Have you received any specific (OFF-MIKE) about federal assistance for the fire victims (OFF-MIKE)? SCHWARZENEGGER: Absolutely. Yes, as a matter of fact, anyone and everyone I've talked to today has guaranteed me that they will do everything they can to help us in California which is the great thing.

I mean, even though it's very sad of what's going on in California, but at the same time I'm -- there's a happy moment also when you come here and you ask for help and people open up their arms and says we are going to help California. So that has been the message in all my meetings this morning.

QUESTION: Is that what happened the members of Congress? Did you ask them for additional money for California, not just disaster money, but the money you've been talking about? California share? Did you address that to these leaders and did they say, Sure, we'll be happy to help you?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I got the message out there loud and clear. Yes, absolutely. And we're all going to work together. This was the great thing that I was in there talking to them, everyone was very enthusiastic and everyone was ready to work together. So I think there are good things to come for California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.

LIN: All right, we've heard from governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger who was standing there with the California congressional delegation on Capitol Hill. Nothing more unifying than a natural disaster. He is predicting full cooperation from the members of Congress and the federal government to get disaster aid to the victims of the fire as quickly as possible.

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