LOS ANGELES (AP) – Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger voted for a 1994 ballot measure to deny social services to illegal immigrants, his campaign said Sunday – offering the first glimpse of the actor’s stand on a major policy issue.

The Republican has promoted himself as the candidate in California’s gubernatorial recall who can best appeal to the state’s politically and ethnically diverse electorate. But Democrats were quick to jump on the disclosure as a chink in the action hero’s armor.

The GOP-backed Proposition 187 to deny health care and public education to illegal immigrants was passed by a wide margin, although it was eventually ruled unconstitutional. It remains a contentious issue and a litmus test for some voters, particularly Hispanics, to gauge whether a candidate is immigrant-friendly.

Schwarzenegger campaign manager George Gorton said the Austrian-born actor’s vote for the measure would not prevent him from reaching out to all voters.

“He has a lot of empathy for people who have come here for a better way of living, whether they have gotten here legally or illegally,” Gorton said. “But he definitely feels that people should get here legally.”

Gorton said Hispanics were among the strongest supporters of Proposition 49, a ballot measure Schwarzenegger successfully campaigned for last year aimed at dedicating as much as $550 million annually to before- and after-school programs.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, slammed Schwarzenegger for his decision to appoint former Gov. Pete Wilson, the architect of Proposition 187, as chairman of his new campaign.

The issue was one of the first Schwarzenegger’s campaign has publicly addressed, discussing the vote in response to a reporter’s inquiry.

Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who is trying to survive the recall, and Schwarzenegger’s Republican rivals have criticized him for speaking mostly in generalities since announcing his candidacy Wednesday.

Davis opposed Proposition 187.

AP-ES-08-10-03 2029EDT



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