September 25, 2003 03:01 PM

The candidates came out slugging at Wednesday night’s 90-minute debate featuring California’s gubernatorial hopefuls, including the high-profile Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And the gloves were off in no time, with political columnist Arianna Huffington, an independent, coming at Schwarzenegger, a Republican, about his links to business interests, Reuters reports.

Firing back at Huffington about her personal tax return — in which she claimed major investment losses, which lowered her tax bill — Schwarzenegger huffed, “Your personal income tax had the biggest loophole. I could driver my Hummer through it.”

Later, Huffington bashed the actor-candidate for his record on women’s issues, bringing up sexist comments Schwarzenegger made during interviews in the 1970s and the fact that he interrupted her during the debate. “This is the way you treat women,” she said. “We know that!”

Replied the action star: “I just realized I have a perfect part for you in ‘Terminator 4.'”

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Schwarzenegger (who, according to the polls, are the leading candidates) butted heads over the economy and on recent workers compensation reform, which Schwarzenegger called “bogus.”

“On Oct. 7, you guys are out,” said the actor.

Other participants in the debate were Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock and Green party candidate Peter Camejo.

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