Schwarzenegger denies pro-Hitler comments. The actor/candidate disavows old interview that quotes him as admiring the Fuhrer as a self-made man

By Gary Susman
October 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

For Arnold Schwarzenegger, Thursday began with a furor and ended with a Fuhrer. Early in the day, he responded to a news report that cited several alleged incidents of sexual harassment over the last 30 years, telling a campaign rally he was sorry for having ”behaved badly” on ”rowdy” movie sets and vowing to be a champion of women if he is elected governor next week. Late in the day, he was defending himself against different allegations, that he’d praised Adolf Hitler in a 1975 interview conducted by George Butler, the director who made him famous in ”Pumping Iron.”

ABC News reported that it had obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal that Butler wrote while filming ”Pumping Iron.” ABC said the proposal quoted Schwarzenegger as answering a question about who his heroes were by saying, ”I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it.” The proposal also reportedly quoted him as saying he wished he could have an experience ”like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say.”

Asked about the comments by ABC News, Schwarzenegger said, ”I cannot remember any of this, all I can tell you is that I despise anything that Hitler stood for. I despise anything what the Nazis stood for? anything that the Third Reich stood for. Anything that they’ve done, the atrocities that they’ve created.” He cited his longtime financial support of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which in 1990 investigated (at Schwarzenegger’s request) the Austrian-born actor’s father’s background as a Nazi soldier. At a news conference Thursday night, the candidate called Hitler a ”disgusting villain.”

Speaking to ABC News, Butler stood by the accuracy of the transcript, but he said that the quotes needed to be seen in context, and that Arnold never said anything anti-Semitic.