LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The California gubernatorial recall election is less than a day away and the crystal ball reading California's future is anything but clear. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger still leads in opinion polls but his numbers have slipped in the wake of sexual harassment claims made against him in the past few days. A Knight-Ridder / NBC poll released Sunday still had 54 percent saying they would vote to oust Governor Gray Davis, while 41 percent said they oppose recalling him. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
But the poll -- taken Wednesday through Saturday -- showed support for the recall slipping after the accusations against Schwarzenegger emerged. Among replacement candidates, Schwarzenegger drew the support of 37 percent of voters surveyed; Democrat Cruz Bustamante had 29 percent; and Republican Tom McClintock, 15 percent. Bustamante said his internal polls show both he and Davis gaining ground. Voters in California face a two-part ballot in Tuesday's recall. The first part asks them whether they want to remove Davis, a Democrat who won a second term last November, from office; the second includes a list of 135 possible replacements.
(Interactive: How the ballot works) In Washington, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers of Michigan, sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, asking him to send investigators to monitor the recall vote. "It is my urgent belief that federal investigators are critical to a fair and just election process, and that without their immediate oversight and intervention, California will suffer irreparable damage equal to the debacle of Florida during the 2000 presidential election". Schwarzenegger aides blame Davis team for leaks Schwarzenegger's campaign blamed Davis for allegations that the actor-bodybuilder groped numerous women during his career, while Davis called on Schwarzenegger to rebut the reports "in detail". In an interview with ABC, taped Saturday and aired Sunday, Schwarzenegger called those allegations "campaign trickery". But The Los Angeles Times reported in its Sunday editions that four more women have come forward with stories of Schwarzenegger grabbing their breasts or buttocks in alleged incidents between 1979 and 2000, bringing to 15 the total number of women who have raised such complaints. In a written statement, Davis said Schwarzenegger "needs to address these charges in detail, not in evasive language and partial denials".
The allegations, if true, are very disturbing, Davis said Sunday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."We " re talking about seriously mistreating 15 women in situations which in some cases it truly would be a crime. "So clearly, these disturb people. We " ve not heard a forthright response from him. There have been some evasions, occasionally an apology, occasionally a denial, and the question gets down to this: Are all 15 of these women lying? Or is Arnold Schwarzenegger not telling us the truth?" Schwarzenegger appeared at the end of a four-day bus tour at a rally in Sacramento, standing before a backdrop of women and girls holding "Join Arnold" signs.
"We are here to clean house. We are here to sweep out the bureaucracy", he told supporters. "We are here to sweep out the special interests. And we are here, No. 1, to sweep out Gray Davis". Schwarzenegger said Thursday that he originally considered his behavior "playful" but conceded that he "behaved badly" in the past, and apologized to any women whom he may have offended.
(Full story) In the interview with ABC, he said he could not respond to specific allegations. "It doesn't make any sense to go through details here with you", he said. "What is important is that I cannot remember what was happening 20 years ago and 15 years ago. But some of the things sound like me". He said no one ever objected to his behavior before. "Now, all of a sudden, isn't it odd that three days and four days before the campaign, all of a sudden all these women want to have an apology?" he asked.
And a top Schwarzenegger campaign official tried to link the allegations to Davis' campaign Sunday. "I believe that there are a number of these people who have had close political ties to the Democratic Party and to Gray Davis that are involved here", California Republican Rep. David Dreier, Schwarzenegger's campaign co-chairman, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer". The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger also has had to deal with excerpts from a book proposal in which he reportedly said he admired Hitler. The actor -- who has raised millions of dollars for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which seeks to preserve the memory of the Holocaust -- has vehemently denied making any such statements and said he has nothing but "disdain" for the Nazi leader.
(Full story) The center's founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, told CNN last month that Schwarzenegger, whom he's known for 24 years, has "never demonstrated any bigotry and anti-Semitism. To the contrary, he's stood up for tolerance. Dreier said Schwarzenegger and his bodybuilding companions chased neo-Nazis out of his hometown at age 17. "People are angry about this, and the frustration level is so high", he said. Democrats draw hope from private polls On CNN's "Larry King Live", Davis said he believed voters will decide against recalling him. "I believe these are fair-minded people in California.
I trust them and I think they " ll decide this recall is not in their best interest or the interest of their children."The recent tracking polls, private polls by [a couple of other] candidates, show this race closing dramatically. It's almost a dead-even race right now. And I believe all of the momentum is on our side". Bustamante addressed several hundred labor union workers at a rally Sunday and called the latest allegations of sexual misconduct outrageous. "These are not numbers", he said. "These are real people who are fearful of coming forward and to be harassed in your workplace.
I just think it's outrageous". The lieutenant governor has said Schwarzenegger's behavior could constitute a crime and that California authorities should investigate the allegations. Davis raised similar questions Saturday, saying "some of those events are clearly a crime". But Dreier called the comment "one of the reasons that Californians are going to recall Gray Davis."They " re trying to divert from the issue of Gray Davis' record -- tripling the car tax, allowing for undocumented immigrants to have drivers' licenses", he said. And McClintock told CNN that he was "sorting through the facts, like everyone else."I think, ultimately, the people of California are going to have to make a simple decision over a question of character, with, again, a big caveat that these are charges that are coming up in the last days of the campaign", he said. McClintock, a veteran lawmaker, has stayed in the race despite pressure from party leaders for Republicans to line up behind the more moderate Schwarzenegger.
But the California congressman said Sunday that voters "have a right to have a choice."If everybody who believes I'd do the best job actually votes for me, we will win in a landslide on Election Day", he said. "But don't vote somebody else's political calculations, vote your own personal convictions.".