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Huffington Ends California Gubernatorial Bid

The field of candidates is narrowing in California's recall race against Governor Gray Davis. Independent candidate Arianna Huffington has withdrawn, and other contenders are weighing their options.

Ms. Huffington polled just two percent in latest survey, released recently. Tuesday, she made this announcement on the Larry King Live show.

"I'm pulling out and I'm going to concentrate every ounce of time and energy working to defeat the recall because I've realized that that's the only way now to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger," she said.

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger led the candidates by 15 points in the recent survey, which also showed the Democratic governor at serious risk of losing his fight against the recall.

Sixty-three percent of respondents want Mr. Davis out of office. Insisting he can survive, he is bringing in prominent Democrats to help him fight the recall. Tuesday, he appeared with the party's national chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

The party official says the recall has wider implications, as Democrats and Republicans compete on the national stage. "The stakes aren't just about California," said Mr. McAuliffe. "It's about the United States of America, and it's about the 2004 presidential election."

Many California Democrats are hedging their bets by opposing the recall but also supporting a Democratic alternative, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.

Some polls suggest that Governor Davis has a better chance if his fellow Democrat withdraws. The lieutenant governor says he will not and argues that he is energizing the state's Hispanic voters, who often vote in low numbers. Mr. Bustamante is California's highest-ranking Hispanic office holder.

"We're energizing a whole group of people to come to the polls," Mr. Bustamante said. "I think it would be a detriment to this whole campaign, not mine but the entire campaign against the recall, if we did drop out."

Green Party candidate Peter Camejo says he won't drop out either, although he polled only five percent in the recent survey.

On the Republican side, conservative candidate Tom McClintock is under pressure to withdraw and throw his support behind fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. The actor-politician is far ahead of him in the polls -- with the latest survey giving him 40 percent, to 18 percent for Mr. McClintock.

The California Republican Leadership Council endorsed the actor Monday, saying he represents the best chance for the party. An angry Tom McClintock calls the endorsement "back-room politics." "And if every Californian who believed I was the best qualified to be governor actually voted for me, we'd win."

Mr. McClintock says he is in the race to the end. He is still promoting his message in television ads that feature his trademark promise never to raise taxes. "Here is my commitment to you: I will cut spending and balance the budget without raising taxes. And, that is a promise."

Arianna Huffington -- although no longer a candidate -- says she is still in the recall race, campaigning against the recall and against Arnold Schwarzenegger. She says she may later endorse a candidate in the October 7 election.