08/07/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
Declaring his desire to "go to Sacramento and clean house," "Terminator 3" actor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday revealed his intention to run for governor of California during a taping of the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.
Schwarzenegger, 56, a longtime Leno pal, called his choice to enter the race the toughest decision he's made since he decided to have a bikini wax in 1978, the Associated Press reports.
The action star now joins a slew of contenders (including former "Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman and political columnist Arianna Huffington) who will be on the ballot as part of a recall effort against Gov. Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger said his position as a political outsider would help him avoid being influenced by special interest groups.
"The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing," he said. "The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled and this is why I am going to run for governor."
Although his advisers previously hinted that the actor would not enter the race, Schwarzenegger said during a press conference after the "Tonight Show" taping that he only came to his decision recently after long conversations with his wife, NBC newswoman (and Kennedy) Maria Shriver, and four children, Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher. "My wife told me she would stand by me no matter what I decided," he said at the press conference.
He could even win. According to The New York Times, public opinion polls have identified Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, as one of the most popular alternatives to Davis, a Democrat, who faces the recall vote on Oct. 7.