Shriver defends recall candidate husband as 'A-plus human being

Saturday, October 4, 2003

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Maria Shriver gave a spirited defense of Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday, extolling her husband's qualifications for governor as she brushed aside allegations of misbehavior.

"I wouldn't be standing here if this man weren't an A-plus human being," the journalist and Kennedy family member told a lunch meeting of the California Women's Leadership Association.

Earlier this week, Schwarzenegger apologized for his past behavior toward women. Shriver, on leave from her NBC News job, called her Republican husband courageous for facing the scrutiny head on.

"Arnold will come though it and we'll be fine," she told reporters. "I believe in him so strongly and I love him very much."

She considered the subject closed, she said. "I don't believe in gutter politics and I don't believe in gutter journalism."

During her half-hour speech, Shriver, the niece of President John F. Kennedy, focused on making the case for Schwarzenegger as the candidate who should replace Gov. Gray Davis in Tuesday's recall election.

Among his qualities, she said, are intelligence, compassion and boldness.

"Lord knows, every decision he has made in his life has been bold," she said, recounting his decision to leave his native Austria for America, seek fame as a bodybuilder and launch a Hollywood movie career.

Shriver said she had mixed feelings about her husband's political aspirations. Polls have shown him ahead of other candidates, with a majority of voters backing Davis' recall.

"I can honestly say it's fine with me if nobody votes for Arnold because I'll get him back full time, and I miss him. And the kids get him back full time, and they miss him."

"But if he wins, all of you win. Because then you get him full time," she said.

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