Recordings of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reveal the Republican comparing his post-World War II upbringing in Austria with plans to build a border fence with Mexico, a proposal he has opposed.
"We had the Berlin Wall; we had walls everywhere. But we always looked at the wall as kind of like the outside of the wall is the enemy," he said. "Are we looking at Mexico as the enemy? No, it's not. These are our trading partners."
The comments came in recordings released Sunday in which he gripes about Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike and expresses sympathy for Mexican immigrants, but says they should also embrace the United States.
The recordings were made in March 2006 in the governor's Capitol office, mostly to generate ideas for writing speeches.
A segment was leaked to the Los Angeles Times during last year's election by the campaign of Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides. In that clip, Schwarzenegger said a mixture of black and Hispanic blood can give people a fiery temperament. He apologized.
The Times obtained more of the recordings Sunday, just two days after the California Highway Patrol found the Angelides campaign did nothing wrong in obtaining the audio files. The CHP said the recordings were accessed through a publicly available section of the governor's Web site.
While expressing sympathy for Mexican immigrants, he also criticized those who fail to assimilate, hanging on to their native language and creating separate shopping areas. He said, for example, that protesting is acceptable, but not with the Mexican flag.
"We love Mexico and we go there on vacation ... yes, everything. We love to hear the Mariachi music, all this stuff," Schwarzenegger said. "But up here, for us to feel sympathetic towards you, you have to carry the American flag and you have to say, 'We want to be part of you. We love you."'
The leak of the additional audio tapes prompted the governor's office Sunday night to release the transcripts of more than three hours of private conversations. Schwarzenegger's communications director, Adam Mendelsohn, blasted their leak to the Times.
"This type of behavior is exactly why people have such a low opinion of politicians," he said, referring to Angelides and his campaign staff, reports AP.
He said the tapes largely show a governor who is "thoughtful, concerned and focused on solving some of California's most serious problems."