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President Bush, Schwarzenegger Discuss Challenges Facing California

President Bush has met with California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. The meeting came as Mr. Bush prepared to leave on a tour of Asia, where he will address terrorism and trade issues.

Mr. Bush says things have changed since he last came to California. For the Republican president, the change has been for the better. Fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready to take the helm of the most populous U.S. state, where Democrats dominate.

Last week, California voters decided to remove Democratic governor Gray Davis in a special recall election and replace him with the Hollywood actor. Voters were angry over the state's mounting budget problems.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is hoping Washington will help. He has complained that California receives less than 80 cents from the federal government for each dollar it sends in taxes. He has promised that when he takes office, he will be asking the president for "a lot of favors."

Some analysts say there is little Mr. Bush can do, faced with a federal deficit approaching $500 billion.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said the meeting was about "relationship building" and not about making specific requests. "We talked about the economy in California, education in California, bringing jobs back, some of the self-inflicted wounds that we have to take care of ourselves, and where can the federal government come in," he said.

As incoming California governor, Mr. Schwarzenegger also has something to offer the president. He can help in next year's general election, using his popularity to help sway the state behind the Republican incumbent. At stake are California's 55 electoral votes, a substantial part of the 270 that Mr. Bush needs for reelection.

The president also noted that the discussion went well, and he poked some fun at himself and his Austrian-born colleague. "We did have a good visit, and during that visit, I was able to reflect on how much we have in common. We both married well," he said. "Some accuse us both of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps - well, two out of three isn't bad."

Mr. Bush was in California for campaign fundraisers and other appearances, on his way to Asia and Australia. Turning to the more serious issues of trade and terrorism, he said the United States is being tested.

"We're being tested abroad, and we're being tested here at home. We're meeting the test of history," he said. "We're defeating the enemies of freedom. And we're confronting the challenges to build prosperity for our country."

October 20 and 21, Mr. Bush will take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, Thailand. He will also stop in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.