Schwarzenegger asks, ‘What would Ronald Reagan have done?’
May 5th, 2012
10:59 PM ET
10 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. dave oldread

    love your family values arnie !! real stand up guy you are with your family values.

    May 5, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  2. MDNA = MaDge Not Applicable!

    ”rather than seeking inclusion and solutions"

    Actually, if that is a multiple choice question, I choose "solutions".

    May 5, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  3. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Schwarzenegger is right. The current day republican party has swung so far off the scale to the right, that they refuse to cooperate with anyone who doesn't agree with their extremist agenda. They will take the entire country down, just to protect the wealthiest 5%. In the process, they are driving a mass exodus from the republican party and in the end, will destroy it as well.

    May 5, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Reagan would have been thrown under the bus by todays republican extremists !

    So would have Goldwater !

    Romney / Bush
    Fool me once , shame on you 2012 !

    May 5, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  5. Mr 1% the "VULTURE CAPITALIST" will outsource all the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly, to China and sell America to the highest bidder!

    Not sure if Arnold is a better actor than I gave him credit for OR if he is more intelligent than I gave him credit for!

    May 5, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Finally someone who points out the truth. Reagan wouldn't have made it far in this Republican party. They have selective memory and only remember part of what Reagan did.

    May 5, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  7. Larry L

    Since Ronald Reagan would have supported a progressive tax rate he wouldn't have called President Obama a "socialist" for supporting the same. He would have continued to spend huge dollars on the war effort – since he drastically increased the dbt doing exactly that for the Cold War. He would have created an atmosphere to divide America – that was his political strategy and he first demonized those who did not support his efforts as "liberals". He is a myth created in the minds of conservatives to make an icon out of a cut & spend Republican.

    May 5, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. Grundoon

    They are pushing all moderates out to their detriment and ensuring I vote a straight ticket for the first time in my life. I will be happy to not support an conservative running because they are totally, completely lost and have jumped off the deep end.

    May 5, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. fayse

    My short answer is, I don't care what Ronald Reagan would have done, I nevervoted for Mr. Reagan. I have a massage to all women, American and all women World wide, we have been supressed for thousands of years, our reprooductive rights have been used as a "pawn" in political wars throughout the ages. It is time for all women to stand together and say, no more. We will not be subugated, hidden by birkas (sic) or silenced. I do not care if ye ou are right wing, left wing or no wing. The men h ave been in charge of our lives for thousandsng me of years and what do we have to show for it? The World is in dissary. We, as women, need to stand up together and say " enough", perhaps women could do a better job. First please allow me to say that I have been a wife,widow and a mother of two boys, a mother in law of two men and a grandmother of four fine young men,not to mention that I also have a lover, so, I have nothing against the male species however, it is long past the time that we need more women to speak up and be counted. The men have made a mess of things so now I think that the time has come for all good "women" to come to the aid of our Country

    May 5, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  10. You heard it worst on CNN

    Arnold is right. The ultra right evangelicals have taken over the party. True republicans belive in small government and less interference in our personal lives. My hat is off to you sir. Also the most recent Conan movie sucked!!! We miss you Arnold!!! Maybe YOU'LL BE BACK.

    May 5, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  11. fayse

    Oh, give me a break. I tried to post a message and it was just obliterated. Long story short. Women of the USA and the World, it is time for us to step up and make our voices heard. The "men" of the World have made a complete mess of everything. I do not care what Party you allign yourself to, I do not care what Nationality you are, We, as women need to stand together and demand equality. To allow any Government to dictate what rights we may o r may not have is, reprehensible.The Laws that are currently being passed in several States are a veiled attempt to keep us all in virtual birkas. Before you catoragize me let me say, I am a widow, mother, grandmother and I also have a lover so, I am not "anti men ". Howeve, we as women need to stand up against suppression. Julia Louis-Dreyfus said that we should have 100 Democratic women, I say, we should have a 100 thousand Democratic women that are willing to stand up to the World and to the "good ole boys" of America and to the rest of the World.

    May 5, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  12. DoNotWorry

    Schwarzenegger may not leave the Republican Party in its death throes of right wing craziness, but I did. The party is dying because it sold itself to corporate interests, drove off all rational humans, and is now stuck with the right wing crazies and corporate dollar bills. Plus a couple old dogs like McCain, bless his heart.

    May 6, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  13. tony

    No contraception or abortion, or education, or real paying jobs. Just like Hitler did in the 20's-30's. Maybe millions of expendable cannon fodder in a huge military in 20 years, to fulfill their dream of taking over the entire World, militarily and religiously.

    May 6, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  14. Dallas Gard

    So, what would Reagan have done? The question was asked but not answered, so tell us Arnold. The obvious answer is that he would have done what Romney has done - swung hard right with the help of an etch-a-sketch, including signing the Grover Norquist pledge. It is really a no-brainer.

    May 6, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  15. mk1

    I do love the way the Republicans idolize Reagan yet he would never be able to win in today's GOP, he is just not even close to being conservative enough. I do believe though that Reagan would put the far right in their place and not be cowed by them. He had America's best interests at heart where today's GOP has ideology first with American best interest a distant second at best.

    May 6, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  16. Smart Human

    Only stupid people would listen to someone who bankrupted California. Oh wait, that's the entire GOP...

    May 6, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  17. korkea aika

    In the 2004 election, Schwartzenegger flew to Ohio to campaign for G W Bush. Bush won Ohio and that put him over for another 4 years of incompetence. So now Arnold should retire and hold his tongue. Bush was not 'small government', taking us to a major 10 year war that cost Trillions. Mission Accomplished. Now all of a sudden, Arnold wants to wag his finger at Republicans. I say let Republicans be Republicans, and let the Democrates keep the White House until the opposition gets a clue

    May 6, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  18. Observer

    Clever Arnie... A brief outing into your old world... To get a feel for the current status of your last scandal. Be true to yourself and those who are still trying to look past the housekeeper-gate. Fire your PR person / image-maker. Write an op-ed with a self-evaluation; public confession, if you will. That would be the right move if you want to make your kids to believe you again and for you to return to public life. For you, there are only two options: honesty or permanent seclusion. What you've done cannot be swept under the rug. People forget with time, sure. But please understand that we all recall the same thing when hearing your unforgettable name.

    May 6, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  19. luke,az

    Arnold,Arnold,Arnold, I know you aren't trying to give your opinion on matters that affect citizens of this country.

    May 6, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  20. Geoffrey Johnston

    As a Canadian observer of U.S. politics, I must say that the former governor makes a great deal of sense. Conservatives in Canada realized back in the early 2000s that a split within the conservative movement at the federal level only served to hand parliamentary majorities to the Liberal Party. Only when the Progressive Conservative Party merged with the right of centre Canadian Alliance did the conservative movement unseat the long reigning Liberal Party. Although there are not two conservative parties in U.S. federal politics, it appears, at least from my Canadian persperctive, that the Republican Party is deeply split between pragmatists, such as Mr. Schwarzenegger, who recognized the necessity of political compromise, and those who will not accomodate the political interests of rivals within the party. The Republican Party used to be a moderate brokerage party, which made it more appealing to the American electorate. If the Republicans are serious about winning the White House and building a winning legislative campaign, they can't rely on attack ads. Instead, they need to draft a centrist conservative platform that respects America's diversity and addresses the country's problems, including the loss of manufacturing jobs, the deficit and the foreign policy challenge presented by China, an emerging superpower. The world needs America. And America needs a productive contest of ideas in the upcoming presidential election campaign. Good luck from Canada!

    May 6, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  21. usualone

    Republicans have always run on smaller government in the past; only Clinton actually did that reducing the size of government. I'm sure the current crop active in the GOP won't accept this former governor as a part of their idology.

    May 6, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  22. Norm

    It doesn't matter whole gets elected in November, the Dems win either way.
    I find it quite hipocritical that anyone calling themselves a Christian, could vote Romney into any office.
    And these are the same people that lied and said Obama wasn't a Chrisitian.
    This time they know exactly what they're voting for and now it's ok.

    May 6, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  23. Paul

    Gov. Schwarzenegger,
    They are going to kick you out, calling you names like socialist (Russia is no longer), hitler (this monster should be happy in hell because he has replacement in american politics), comminist, america hater, and ennemi. If they love this country so much, why they lied about Irak war that killed more than 5,000 young braves? Why they want the president to fail? These REPUBLICAN'TS love to see zero job creation in order to win in November? They had HUGE tax cut during Bush, it didn't work. They are forgetting that there is no the principle of SUPPLY and DEMAND is more important than the so-called tax cut. You can pay zero tax but without demand, the business is going nowhere! Too much to comprehend because they hate EDUCATION!

    May 6, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  24. John

    Big Arnold is right, of course. Reagan wouldn't recognize his GOP anymore, what with the Koch brothers and their like forcing it so far to the extreme right, stealing money from the middle class to give to the rich, denying women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Muslims, union workers, and others their rights. Sad, really.

    May 6, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  25. Kuato Lives

    It's fascinating watching the splintering of the republican party; I wouldn't be surprised if the rifts continue to grow until we have a legitimate third party on the scene.

    May 6, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
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