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Associated Press
Mar 10, 2006 - 01:00 AM

by MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer

Beatty warns Democrats it's Schwarzenegger they want to beat

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Actor-activist Warren Beatty had a warning for California Democrats on Friday -- don't forget the real fight for the Governor's office is in November against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fearing that a nasty Democratic primary could leave the party's nominee weakened and vulnerable, Beatty called on candidates Steve Westly and Phil Angelides to avoid a negative campaign that could fragment, rather than unite, the party.

"I want us to win," Beatty said at a fundraiser for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, an advocacy group. Echoing a line made famous by President Reagan, he said the party should follow the GOP's lead and embrace the idea that "thou shalt not speak ill of another Democrat."

With what he called a great potential for political change at hand, Beatty said "we could miss the opportunities" if the candidates turn on themselves.

He called on Democrats to "get together and use what influence we have with our candidates... and let them know that we are going to register our disapproval of the kind of careerism that would put winning a Democratic primary in June ahead of our common goal in November."

Beatty has taken Schwarzenegger to task for months, complaining in a speech in October that the Republican governor's tenure in the statehouse has been marked by "fake events, fake issues and fake crowds and backdrops."

Beatty's remarks Friday were similar to recent comments by Democratic leaders, who have suggested the governor would benefit if the Democratic primary veers into personal attacks and a flood of negative ads.

Angelides adviser Bob Mulholland said he welcomed the advice.

"That's what our campaign has been about," he said.

Westly strategist Garry South said, "If there are concerns about a negative campaign, the first person people ought to talk to is Phil Angelides. That's his campaign history.

"If he wants to launch sleazy attacks against Steve Westly, we will respond and respond aggressively," he added.

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