LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign said the actor was requested not to attend a Mexican Independence Day parade set for Sunday in Los Angeles, and blamed "wedge issue politics" for the development.
The Republican actor had originally accepted an invitation to serve as grand marshal, according to his aides, but his campaign said Friday that the invitation to head the parade was rescinded. Although he wasn't going to be grand marshal, Schwarzenegger planned to participate in the parade, appearing with a group of children.
On Saturday, he was asked not to attend at all, spokesman Todd Harris said, adding that "it seems that wedge-issue politics have been introduced into this parade."
"I was looking forward to being with so many of my friends in the Mexican-American community to celebrate Mexico and its culture," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Saturday. "Unfortunately, it seems that the politicians have gotten involved and I have been uninvited."
Democrats including Schwarzenegger's leading opponent in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, have increasingly criticized the actor's stances on some immigration issues, including his opposition to a bill signed Friday by Gov. Gray Davis giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.
Davis planned to attend the parade and ride in a bus with Hispanic officials including state Sen. Gil Cedillo, sponsor of the drivers license bill, a spokesman said.
David Benitez, director of the popular annual parade sponsored by the Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico, declined to comment in detail.
"David Benitez has an open heart, he does not deny anybody, he would like to bring everybody, but this is a political issue right now and the company has the right to deny any application," Benitez said, adding he was referring to Pageantry Productions, the company hired to organize parade participation.
Bill Lomas, president of Pageantry Productions, said he was instructed by officials with the Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico to revoke Schwarzenegger's parade permit, but was not given a specific reason.
On Friday, the president of the Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico said Schwarzenegger was never formally invited to be grand marshal, and that overture was made by a volunteer without being officially approved.