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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of the editorial board.

Debate: To Arnold
He had something to prove and he did...
[Hugh Hewitt] 09/25/03

As someone once famously remarked: "It's the economy, stupid."  In California in 2003, the key phrase is amended slightly: "It's the economy and the corruption, stupid."  

Arnold gets that.  And because he does, Arnold won.  Big time. Not even close. He needed to show up and show command, charisma and good humor.  Four for four.

And his tremendous closing statement was a preview of coming attractions as he goes to the people to turn the state around.  No wonder Democrats are scared.

I watched most of the proceedings with the Republican faithful of Orange County, at the famed Balboa Bay Club. There were many Tom McClintock supporters among the crowd, but it was strongly supportive of Arnold, a great sign of reality among the conservatives.  Tom didn't lose any votes immediately, but he didn't gain any.  His attacks on Pete Wilson were bad form, and suggest that he is still in this because of an old grudge.  That didn't play well at all.  He knows his stuff, but while Arnold and Cruz used the closing remarks to tell stories, Tom was still selling competence. It didn't work. His support, already drifting away, will continue moving towards AS.  Tom needed the combination of a breakthrough, four home run performance coupled with a disaster for Arnold. He got neither. 

Cruz is the Peter Principle personified, and it showed.  He is a time-server, the perfect Lieutenant Governor.  His embrace of taxes, taxes, taxes is understood and will be rejected.  This is the guy who is going to lead a desperate state out of its fiscal chaos?

Camejo --really, what can you say?  Nobody believes that nonsense.  Not even Peter.

Arianna may have blown her chance for a television career with strident, shrill posturing.  When she tried to play the victim card the response across America was "Oh, come on."  The problem is that Arianna appeared on Politically Incorrect far too often, and doesn't understand that a studio audience cued to laugh isn't a real audience, and that interruptions in a serious forum don't come across well.  Her repeated attempts to play the role of a serious thinker were undermined by her obvious baiting of Arnold.  Even Stan Statham gave away the general reaction of "What a fraud."  Big loser: Arianna.  She will probably bow out rather than face the certain balloting in the low single digits. It is useful to remember that NPR and the Los Angeles Times has pretended that Arianna is a center-right voice. In fact she's a third-rate Barnum with an accent.

One ABC reporter tried to suggest that Gray was the winner because of the horrible format that led to chaos and candidates' talking over each other. Right.  Ninety minutes of agreement only on the dire state of the state, and Gray's the winner? Did you hear Cruz trying to defend Gray? Of course not; Cruz has the polling numbers.  Arnold needed to win over a big slice of Tom's people tonight.  He did.  That's why he won.  It will be an interesting two weeks.  Watch for Demo hit-man Bob Mulholland to uncork the nasties in about seven days.  It is the last play in the playbook. Don't be surprised by anything.   The Dems are down to desperate measures, and there is a lot of money at stake.  The Tammany crowd won't go easily into the night. Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. His opinions on national issues can be found at and he writes a weekly column (Wednesdays) for

In, But Not Of
by Hugh Hewitt

The Embarrassed Beliver
by Hugh Hewitt

Searching for God in America
by Hugh Hewitt



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