Schwarzenegger asks, ‘What would Ronald Reagan have done?’
May 5th, 2012
10:59 PM ET
2 years ago

Schwarzenegger asks, ‘What would Ronald Reagan have done?’

(CNN) – Were Ronald Reagan in office today, some Republicans would “start looking for a ‘real’ conservative to challenge him in a primary,” Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote in an op-ed published Saturday evening.

The former California governor said that the man who held that office 30 years before him – before becoming president - is becoming more a distant memory than a model to some Republicans on the “extreme right.” They are playing the role of “ideological enforcers” rather than seeking inclusion and solutions, wrote Schwarzenegger, himself a Republican.

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“What's important is our shared belief in the broad Republican principles of free enterprise and small government,” he said in the op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times. “If we continue to fight one another without being willing to compromise, we will keep losing to big-government advocates.”

Schwarzenegger encouraged his party to embrace a “big tent” mentality rather than exclude Republicans who are willing to compromise and, like Reagan and others, occasionally “buck their party.”

“It is true that he worked to reduce the size of government and cut federal taxes, and he eliminated many regulations. But he also raised taxes when necessary. In 1983, he doubled the gas tax to pay for highway infrastructure improvements,” said Schwarzenegger, who like Reagan made his name in Hollywood before going into politics.

“By holding their fingers in their ears when those topics arise, these Republicans aren't just denying themselves a seat at the table; in a state such as California, they also deny a seat to every other Republican,” he continued.

Schwarzenegger said he opposes the ideological “rigidity” of some in his party, but remained a Republican because he was “too stubborn to leave a party I believe in.”

He was a two-term Republican governor in a state where Democrats recently have held sway, after Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003. The former star of the silver screen was reelected in 2006 for a term, which ended in 2011.

The state’s current governor Jerry Brown and U.S. senators are all Democrats, and Republicans are outnumbered among the California’s U.S. representatives and in the state legislature.

Californians statewide next go to the polls June 5 to cast primary ballots in a number of races, including for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Diane Feinstein.

– CNN Political Director Mark Preston contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012 • Arnold Schwarzenegger • California • Ronald Reagan
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Grace

    While I put Schwarzenegger, Spitzer, Edwards and Gingrich in the category of morally bankrupt, once in a great while they may show some sensible thought.

    May 6, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Bookenz

    Republicans want smaller government?! Then how come they want to control EVERY aspect of our lives? Including whether we reproduce or not.

    May 6, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Keith A. Sillsbury

    Other than Gun rights I can't find a thing I like about the republican party. I mean really, what do they stand for? Small government vs. big government, what does that mean? Lower taxes, but for who? Look what less regulation got us, A runaway banking industry that to this day still continues to rob the people at every turn. Subsidizing of Big Oil whom which have the LARGEST PROFIT of any corperations WORLD WIDE. Real smart repubs.

    May 6, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. enuff

    Has anyone bothered to take into consideration that 1) Ronald Reagan was not a god despite the republican party trying to make him one. He had failings too, such as having more indictments of people working for him in presidential history. His wife consulted astrologers which is against what the Bible says. He also was an adulterer. And he was in the early stages of alzheimers' which means he could get sick and would eventually die.- not very god-like to me. 2) Ronald Reagan was president during a different era of politics and world issues. He politicized the downfall of the Soviet Union and took credit for the entire collapse. Yet, President Obama isn't supposed to take credit for bin Laden. If we are going to continue to call on the image of a dead president, let's go with "What would Washington do; What would Lincoln do; What would FDR do? Don't ask what Hoover would do... Bush already did that one and the results were almost the same.

    May 6, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Bob Bichen

    The man is right, and this is similar to what true Republicans have been saying for some time. There is a rink of McCarthyism with those who control the GOP right now, but they have only taken over our party for the time being. Ronald Reagan was imperfect, but one of our best Presidents, as he was able to compromise. Former Governor Schwarzenegger governed in a state controlled by the Democrats with an iron fist and managed to make headway as to fiscal and worker's compensation reforms. He is imperfect as well, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I am ready to vote other than GOP for the first time in my voting life of over 20 years. I'm hoping Gary Johnson (GOP running as a Libertarian) can gain traction as he is the only one who likely can govern with a combination of business sense and compassion this sorely needed.

    May 6, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Jake

    Someguy summed it up perfectly. If the republicans would leave the social issues alone they could easily win over the common sense voters. As it is now I would have an extremely hard time supporting any republican who has catered to the radical right and the terrifying things that they believe in.

    "One of the few republicans that makes sense and is likeable. If the republican party were more like him I would gladly vote their way because I favor private enterprise and limited government involvement in economics. But the way they are now, forget it. Too much racism, too much religion, too much fundamentalism."

    May 6, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Mike

    For once I agree with him. I live on Oklahoma and my vote for Obama will be wasted because he will never win in this racist, "evangalical" state (which ranks among the highest in teen unwed births and lowest in education, health care etc).
    In fact most "evangelical" states renk this way too.
    But those of you that live in swing states please go out aqnd vote for Obama. You are our only hope for a better America.

    May 6, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. JC in Western U.S.

    Who could have imagined a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger would be more statesman-like than 99% of Republicans?

    He has nerve. I'll give him credit for that. Nobody else in the Republican party has acknowledged that it's not "un-Republican" to raise taxes when necessary.

    May 6, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. CCCDaughter

    The right Republicans have held the rest of their party Hostage! At least Schwarzenegger has the guts to call them out on it! The Republican Party of my Dad's generation is gone, because of the birth of extremisim by the right wing. The Republican Party of the past stood for what was good for the Military, not what was good for War corporations. The Republican Party of the past, believed that they, the head of the household, would make the right decisions for their teenage daughters and teenage sons, not the government or some unknown evangelist. Heck, back then the Church's were moderates (except the Catholics) now it is the hand waving, tongue babble, money grabbing televanglist. Mitt Romney will be kissing one of their asses this week and guest what Mitt, you are going to lose the Moderate Voters. These are the same people who think Mormons are just as bad as Gay. P.S. You lost a very good Man on your team this week, because he is Gay. Shame on you!

    May 6, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. slupdawg

    The extreme right uses the social issues as the way to bring the religious and moral puritans into their fold. They know good and well that they can't keep selling snake-oil voodoo economics to the unwashed socially conservative masses that are scratching to make a living and have them believe that Garganuacorp and Wall St. and the top money earners are really looking out for their piddling mortgage and car payments. So they smoke screen with vague socio/cultural dividers and moral platitudes and lump those things in with their economic worldview and make them inseparable and that way they have poor 'ol Jed-barely-kep-his-family-fed thinking Mitt Romney really loves and cares for him. It's amazing sham, and pure genius.

    May 6, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. MikeH

    The Republican party has been taken over by virulently fanatical theofacists who would take us back to the Middle Ages. Rational thinking Republicans are pushed aside by these Jacoban purists. The country is in great danger should these fanatics get control of all three branches of goverment.

    May 6, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Palin Power

    We need Sarah Palin to come in and challenge Romney. She will easily win the nomination and the general election. This country needs President Sarah Palin!

    May 6, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. John Pilon

    Ronald Reagan would have taken a nap.

    May 6, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    "Who could have imagined a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger would be more statesman-like than 99% of Republicans?"

    Mitt Romney has already lost the moderate vote which is why he's using what is left of his campaign to court the Limbaugh voters. He's putting his money on hate carrying the day for him.

    Sad to see Mitt overreach his own moral decency this way, but considering his past business dealings, it ought not to come as too big of a surprise to most of us.

    May 6, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. justaminit

    Now there is a balanced view from someone who could be written off easily. Nothing good has come from this stalemate in Washington. Neither side holds the moral high ground. Obstructionism is the politics of stubbornness and immaturity. Hopefully some from both sides will listen.

    May 6, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. dc

    Arnold must be a Democrat..... He can't keep his pants zipped.....

    May 6, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  17. BD70

    Oh yeah Arnold...family values man...

    May 6, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. In Your Dreams

    She wouldn't win the nomination because the Republicans know she has no chance at winning the election.

    May 6, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. marjee123

    Seems to me they are relating more to the rulers of Nazi Germany than anybody in the US>

    May 6, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. B.

    He is right about the GOP going extreme but they have a mind-set now to placate the- extreme right that has taken over the Republican party.

    It will more than likely cost them the election this Fall and that is what they deserve.

    May 6, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Meadmaker

    Wow!!
    At least Arnold doesn't have selective memory, about Reagan, like many of the other Republicans.

    May 6, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. viaquest

    lol @ Swartzy , please stick to Really bad acting

    May 6, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Engineer in Raleigh

    Small government my foot. Here in NC, the GOP is pushing an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution. They would pass an amendment compelling the police to sniff everyone's naughty bits if they could. I can't believe any Republican can say "small government" with a straight face anymore.

    May 6, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  24. Clay

    Like today's GOtP, Reagan is dead. When their party swings so radically right that it turns Christians away, you know they're doing something right.

    May 6, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  25. Brian Dodge

    The governator's right; too bad he's not far enough right for the Grand Old Tea Party political mainswamp,

    May 6, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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