Schwarzenegger recruits billionaire Buffett to lead team of economic advisers

Arnold Schwarzenegger has picked the billionaire investor Warren Buffett to lead his team of economic advisers, adding further celebrity muscle to his bid to replace Gray Davis, Governor of California.

Mr Buffett, whose canny readings of the stock market have made him a media darling as well as the second richest man in the United States, will go a long way to defusing charges that Mr Schwarzenegger is a lightweight with no real programme for governing.

On the other hand, the investor, based in Nebraska, is a Democrat whose policy positions - favouring heavier taxation on the rich and more stringent accounting standards on stock options - contradict the low-tax, low-regulation positions that have been sketched out by Mr Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and that are considered sacrosanct by the party's grassroots support.

The announcement came exactly one week into Schwarzenegger's campaign to join the extraordinary election on whether to recall and replace Mr Davis, set for 7 October. California's Secretary of State has now finalised the number of candidates at 135 - considerably lower than the 247 who initially applied but still more than enough to cause headaches for election planners and returning officers.

Thanks to his Hollywood celebrity, Mr Schwarzenegger has started the race with a tremendous in-built advantage, but he has also been the favourite target of his rivals' attack. Most damaging so far has been the revelation that he voted for a highly controversial ballot proposition in 1994 that would have disqualified the children of illegal immigrants from receiving state education, health care or other benefits. The proposition was sponsored by California's Republican governor at the time, Pete Wilson, who is now co-chairman of the Schwarzenegger campaign.

The suggestion was particularly distasteful to California's growing Latino population, who mostly abandoned the Republican Party afterwards.

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