Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California
(CNN)–Arnold Schwarzenegger says his party is losing numbers, and it is time to welcome independents and centrists to the ranks of the California Republican party.
"In movie terms, we are dying at the box office. We are not filling the seats," the California governor said. "Now, while the number of California Republicans has been declining, the number of independents has been growing. They may well outnumber both political parties in just 20 years." Schwarzenegger made the comments in an address to the California Republican party state convention.
"The real opportunity for Republicans is that independents generally agree with our core principles," he said. "I want to make the Republican Party welcoming to these Independents."
Schwarzenegger has been critical of some Republicans who have proposed that independents not be allowed to vote in Republican primaries.
Schwarzenegger said the goal of any party is to win elections, to become a majority and advance its ideas. "How do we succeed at that?," he asked. "By including, not excluding. By being open to new ideas, not rejecting them out of hand. By expanding into the center, not falling back upon ourselves into a smaller and smaller corner."
"If our party doesn't address the needs of the people – the needs of Republicans themselves," he said, "the voters, registered Republicans included, will look elsewhere for their political affiliation."
Although he stressed the importance of including people with more centrist and moderate views in the party, Schwarzenegger still made it a point to burnish his own credentials. "I have been a Republican since Nixon."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made news earlier this year when he announced he was leaving the Republican party and becoming an independent
Schwarzenegger made the comments Friday night in Indian Wells, California.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford