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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

“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. ThinkAgain

    Schwarzenegger is right – and I hope the GOP doesn't listen to him, because nothing would please me more than to have the current incarnation of the GOP so thoroughly defeated in November so as to keep them out of the way of our country moving forward and being able to compete – for years and years to come.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 6, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  2. Drew

    Republicans like him should have spoken up sooner and maybe they wouldn't be in the mess they are

    May 6, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  3. Mother656

    Leave it to a Rimo from California to suggest Republicans compromise w/Obama and the Socialist elites?

    May 6, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  4. Paul

    That's right. Used to be GOP candidates would evoke Reagan's name as a positive attribute. Not anymore.

    May 6, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  5. A person of interest

    He's Conservative having love children? Bush's boys at Enron f'd up California...and ken lay is probably is as dead as bin laden....

    May 6, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  6. Blaine

    So glad he is not our Governor anymore...what a disgrace.

    May 6, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  7. Cortanis

    and he's entirely right. The Republican party is pretty much doing something close to some kind of purity purge. If you're not way hard right, you're not a republican and you're not welcome.

    May 6, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  8. MaryM

    Ronnie would have and did Raise Taxes.!!

    May 6, 2012 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  9. Consequence

    Romney is and should be a "big tent" Republican, although with groping a fave and a child by a housekeeper, Schwartznegger's tent is a little too big. Romney will bring better decisions and better executive leadership back to the Presidency.

    May 6, 2012 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  10. Truth001

    Shhhh Arnold Republicans only like to hear talking points. Reality doesn't sit well these days with the GOP.

    May 6, 2012 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  11. Les

    The biggest mistake in California political history has the nerve to comment on the upcoming election? Except I agree with him.

    May 6, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  12. BeverlyNC

    The Republican Party is so extreme not even Ronald Reagan could get the Republican nomination. He was a human being. Today's Republicans are so full of hate and racism they cannot see the People, the issues, or reality. Reagan would be horrified at what has become of the Republicans.

    May 6, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  13. craig

    Sounds like Arnold has figured it out. Too bad no one in the GOP is listening.

    May 6, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  14. Anonymous

    This State will hopefully drop into the Ocean...

    May 6, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  15. db

    The guy is right.

    May 6, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Who is Schwarzenegger? Is this the folk, who slept with the nanny in Sacramento, and dumped Kenenedy?

    May be Schwarzenegger was elected by the Democrate engine. He loss to the incompetent Brown who has turned California to a trash state. Both of these guys should be removed from Sacramento anyway.

    May 6, 2012 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  17. Canuck

    Just call a spade a spade – they're a bunch of wackos.

    May 6, 2012 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  18. CTYank

    You're wasting your time, Arnie. The current crop of "baggers" never learned to share, or listen to others' ideas.

    It's not "big" or "small" government that's the issue (unless it's the Norquist "fit it in a suitcase" thing), it's RIGHT-sizing. Else, international corporations will run various governments. What matters most is how it works for the people. Bankers would love zero regulation.

    May 6, 2012 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  19. LouieD

    Says the clown who in 2004 said of Democrats, "Why would I listen to losers? Let's be honest - they have lost every single ballot in the Bay Area."

    My, how another imminent "whuppin'" of the Republican party changes attitudes! At least Arnie's lack of credibility hasn't changed!

    May 6, 2012 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  20. Jeff

    He is right to say that Republicans don't believe in compromise, and that the party is far removed from the ideals that Reagan stood for.

    May 6, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  21. David in Cincinnati

    Regardless of Reagan's failed trickling down and enormous debt increase, Arnold is right: GOP obstructionism for its own sake has gotten us, and hopefully the GOP, nowhere over the past four years. And current GOP parochial idiotology can only fail.

    May 6, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  22. Dutch

    Get to da choppa!!!!

    May 6, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  23. Todd Hollingworth

    Ron Reagan
    Ron Paul

    May 6, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  24. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Ronald Reagan would have said "There he goes again." Given one of those Ward Cleaver half-smiles and then looked at Nancy to make sure it wasn't time for his diaper change.

    May 6, 2012 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  25. dan

    That this numbskull was actually a Governor still boggles the mind.

    May 6, 2012 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8