Schwarzenegger denies the specifics of the L.A. Times story on his treatment of women, but tells a friendly audience, "I have to say that where there's smoke there's fire." Dan Weintraub's quotes are more complete than the AP report. [Update: Here's the full text from AP via Prestopundit, who gathers a lot of reaction.]
I have sometimes behaved badly. I have been on rowdy movie sets and have done things I thought were playful but I have offended people. I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize.
He added: As the governor, I will be a champion for the women and I hope you let me prove that.
The Bee's blogger also gives some instant political writer analysis:
How will this play politically? It was probably the best possible statement Schwarzenegger could make under the circumstances. He clearly is hoping to nip the story in the bud, to stop it before it explodes and overtakes the campaign in its final days. On television today and in the papers tomorrow, the stories will be that Schwarzenegger has apologized. That word will make some headlines. And so the dominant message will be not of Arnold groping women but of him apologizing for his behavior. Or at least those messages will be twinned...
Some voters might even find his apology refreshing in this day of obfuscation and denial. The only gap in his strategy is that he is trying to have it both ways by denying the specific allegations in The Times while apologizing for other behavior not linked to specific women or actions. But I think that detail will get lost in the coverage.
In his earlier post, Weintraub says of the Times story: "The piece is credible, and disturbing." Meanwhile the partisan shills are up in arms. And on the LAT op-ed page, Ann Louise Bardach examines reports that the National Enquirer and other tabs went easy on Schwarznegger to help his campaign.
Updated 1:55 p.m.