Schwarzenegger says he's running for governor

LOS ANGELES, California -- Vowing to "bring California back to what it once was," film star Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that he will run for governor on a reform platform to battle special interests and "clean house" in Sacramento.

Appearing on NBC's "The Tonight Show," Schwarzenegger accused state politicians of "fiddling, fumbling and failing." The actor who turned the Terminator into an American icon also took specific and unflinching aim at embattled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, whom he hopes to replace in the October 7 recall ballot.

"The man who is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis," he said. "He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled, and this is why I am going to run for governor of the state of California."

"This man has to go," he said.

At a news conference shortly after the taping, Schwarzenegger said he feels "very strongly that we have some serious problems in this state."

"We have businesses leaving here every day. We have people leaving the state every day. We see a budget that is the biggest budget deficit that we've ever had in the history of California," he said. "We just see things declining and declining and declining, and the biggest problem we have is that California is being run now by special interests."

"I will go to Sacramento, and I will clean house," Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger says wife will support him

Prior to the taping, Schwarzenegger, 56, had been widely expected to say that he had decided not to run, which had become the conventional political wisdom after weeks of speculation. He described the decision to jump in the race as "very difficult" and said he carefully weighed the possible impact on his family.

"I came to the conclusion that even though there are great sacrifices to make, I felt in the end it is my duty to jump in the race," he told reporters after the "Tonight Show" taping. "I'm the most unique candidate because I'm an outsider."

He also said that he would not have run if his wife, TV newswoman Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political family, had objected.

"My wife told me that she would support me, no matter what the decision is," he said.

He joked with "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno that his candidacy will mark the first time Shriver, from the nation's most prominent Democratic political dynasty, has ever voted for a Republican.

The Austrian-born bodybuilder-turned-actor will be running in the October 7 election, in which voters will first be asked whether Davis should be recalled and will then pick a replacement to take office should the governor be tossed out.

Schwarzenegger said the recall "is a wake-up call to all the politicians across the country. People are saying, 'I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore'" -- a line taken from the classic movie "Network."

Schwarzenegger's decision, and an announcement earlier Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein that she would not be a candidate, brought some limited clarity to the chaotic race, three days before the Saturday filing deadline.