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The San Jose Mercury News (California)
Jul 26, 2006 - 01:00 AM

by JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press

Hecklers greet governor on 2nd day of campaign tour

GLENDALE, Calif. - The second day of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign bus tour across Southern California hit another bump Wednesday when scores of nurses held a raucous demonstration outside a campaign stop.

About 100 members and supporters of the California Nurses Association and another group that supports a November ballot measure to limit campaign contributions jammed the sidewalk outside a popular bakery in this suburb just north of downtown Los Angeles. As the governor schmoozed briefly with voters and supporters inside, they waved signs proclaiming "Stop Political Corruption" and chanted "No more lies."

Just an hour earlier, Schwarzenegger had encountered a much friendlier crowd on downtown Los Angeles' Olvera Street, the historic Mexican marketplace where the city was founded in 1781. There, the governor was greeted by a crowd of about 150 tourists, shopkeepers and children who besieged him for autographs. Schwarzenegger, trailed by nearly a dozen camera crews as he walked the narrow brick sidewalks, happily obliged. He didn't take questions from reporters.

On Tuesday, Schwarzenegger had been heckled in La Mesa by people upset with his positions on immigration and border security, but on largely Hispanic Olvera Street the issue never came up.

"Gov., buy something!" shouted Emily Martinez, whose family has sold crafts from a small shop in the middle of the street for decades. Schwarzenegger declined but stepped behind the counter to pose for a picture. She quickly offered him a job.

"Thank you," he replied. "What does it pay? Minimum wage?"

"No, it pays more than minimum wage. You'd do all right here."

Afterward, Martinez declined to say if she supports Schwarzenegger, but added that his visit wouldn't determine how she votes. She noted that his opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, had already posed for a picture with her.

Schwarzenegger has been traveling across the state and on Wednesday touted his health care record since taking office. His campaign noted that children's enrollment in the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs has increased 10 percent and now serves more than 4 million children.

When Schwarzenegger arrived in Glendale, Carmen Balber, who supports Proposition 89, which would limit campaign contributions and authorize public financing for state candidates, asked him to support the measure.

"He wouldn't commit to it," she complained.

Several nurses who demonstrated were still angry at Schwarzenegger's effort to seek an emergency order - since abandoned - delaying implementation of a law requiring hospitals to provide one nurse for every five patients.

Schwarzenegger, citing a statewide nursing shortage and the financial burden on hospitals, had sought to keep the ratio at six-to-one.

"For him to have done that was ridiculous and disgusting," said Manny Punzalan, a registered nurse at the UCLA Medical Center.

Earlier this week Schwarzenegger unveiled a plan to expand health care access for children, but Punzalan dismissed that as election-year posturing.

"He said he's going to kick nurses' butts," Punzalan said, recalling a remark Schwarzenegger made in 2004.

The governor later acknowledged he shouldn't have joked that nurses didn't like him "because I'm always kicking their butts."

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