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. Dover

    Yeah, let's listen to him,....after all he sunk California.

    May 6, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  2. rush

    Arnie, you're just figuring this out?

    May 6, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  3. Joanne

    It's about time a Republican made a comment that made sense and dictated by political logic.

    May 6, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  4. truebob

    As so many before him have learned the hard way, the Governator will find he is wasting his time using reason or logic on the Republican "base". A fanatic is as a fanatic does.

    May 6, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  5. John Boner

    Ronald Reagan would have been shunned by todays Republican party for being to moderate.

    May 6, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  6. Bob Ramos

    If the Presidential elections were to be held today, Obama would be reelected and the Democrats would control Congress. Why?

    1. By default, the black vote will go to Obama.
    2. The Repubs have offended the Hispanic voters by their immigration legislation in states like AZ, AL, CO, GA, etc.
    Further, as of today, Romney has not even bothered to advertise on the Spanish language networks like Univision.
    Obama does so on a regularly scheduled basis.
    3. Obama has support from the white voters who are offended by the Repubs continued defense of the rich. BTW, many of these same rich folks are very willing to pay more in taxes if they are asked to.
    4. Anything Obama proposes, including budgets, are DOA in the House.
    5. Repubs have used House committee meetings as partisan sessions to criticize Obama and the Democrats. Case in point – Rep. Issa regularly schedules hearings on things like Mexican gun scandal but ignores that this started during the Bush years and will not call officials from that era.
    6. Obama's "coattails" will be long enough to pull votes in for candidates running for Congress.

    The Repubs will go down fighting and will make wild accusations which will be covered only by Fox.

    May 6, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  7. Joe

    You heard it from "da Sperminator".

    May 6, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  8. caeser

    Arnold makes a valid point in that if you keep purging your most moderate member eventually there will be no one.

    May 6, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  9. ol cranky

    yup, that's the religious right owned GOP: they'd reject Reagan as being not conservative enough and reject Jesus for not being Christian enough. It's only a matter of time before the flat earth society becomes mainstream again

    May 6, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  10. Fair + Balanced

    Answer for Arnold: Reagan would not have taken steroids like you and scerewled the nanny. Ronnie would have ask Nancy to get the advice of her astrologer and then found a way to steal from the poor and give more to the rich.

    May 6, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  11. PTBarnumboy

    Reagan would, as he did, stick it to the middle class, working guy/gal and implement tax policy that favors the wealthy. Reagan would, just like he did, keep our economic ball rolling down the same trickle down hill that has kept salaries/wages stagnant in this country for the past 40 years. It's past time to expose the Reagan fantasy for what it really was.

    May 6, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  12. anon-i-mouse

    This is all very true. Even though I'm not a Republican, I hope that they follow Arnie's advice so that the Republican party becomes less toxic and not so damaging to the country.

    May 6, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  13. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    Go away wierdo c-grade actor, you are not wanted and no one gives a frack what ronnie raygun would do

    May 6, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  14. ppppuuuuuu

    in other words, he is talking about right wingnut, extremists, who dont give a crap about the USA,
    just their nazi party!

    May 6, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  15. mark

    Well he wouldn't have been banging the nannie

    May 6, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    ....would sleep while Dan Rather asking questions, trickle down nonsense broke USA to ground...idiot movie guy.

    May 6, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  17. Peter Q Wolfe

    Do you republicans hear that? Arnold is saying that you don't have to be a Ron Paul extremist conservative to be considered a republican and hence fellow american. You don't have to agree 100% of what the Constutuion has to say on something that the founding fathers didn't even have an inkling to speak about cause of historic contexts and political necessity would have prevented such in those times than now days. Moreover, Arnold states that you have to draw in more diverse groups of people like young college students, racial minroties, women, etc if you want to win the ticket but instead you even shoved me an independant away cause of your lack of compromise on taxes, civil reforms to moral questions and "big military suppport" just funny seeing how "big government" is everything but NASA, military, homeland security, Dea, Medicare, etc only when it suits your own voters in your weflare states.

    May 6, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  18. Chuk

    Ssssh, Arnold, don't advice them! Let them keep their heads in the sand. Let them answer not to America but to their real boss Norquist. Better for Democrats come election time. Let them remain "severely" conservative!

    May 6, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  19. king

    What would you do scharsenegger. We still remembered what you did to California. Lesson Reagan had the desk top apple computer, the world wasn't a global market this was why trickle down worked for a little bit. Now that trickle down stuff is going to cheap labor in China and India, because big companies are fighting to be on the top of the world. Obama started bringing manufacturing jobs back to the states, by giving power yo our spenders. Repubs wants to take money away from our spenders, destroying consumer confidence.

    May 6, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  20. Tam

    Reagan was not the "god" people remember him as. He acted as a President, really acted. He was a Howdy Doody. Nothing much there.

    May 6, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Arnold should know that the GOP has a big tent. It consists of baggers, birthers, bigots, big oil, billionaires, chicken hawks, and people who wage a war on : women, the poor, the middle class, workers, college students, veterans, minorities, safety regulations, and government in general.

    May 6, 2012 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  22. DN

    Please stop deifying Ronald Reagan. He sent money to the Contras without approval from Congress. That was against Constitutional law. For a party who worships both Reagan and the Constitution, they appear to have no issue with the former breaking the law of the other. Remember, too, that Mr. Reagan turned over names during the McCarthy hearings under a pseudonym. He refused to give names when he testified, but did so behind the scenes with a fake name. That is cowardly.

    May 6, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. cigarman

    Arnold is exactly correct in his summation of the Republican Party. We Real Americans pay taxes so that everyone is Represented, not just what the Republican Party wants. Republican Party of today wants to take the United States back to the 1940`s. Lower taxes for the RICH. Raise taxes on the middleclass and the poor. Vaginal probes for women seeking an abortion. Do away with Medicare. Do away with Social Security. Do away with abortions altogether. War on women. Take womens rights away from them. Stop funding Planned Parenthood, which the Republicans who run some states are already doing. I have asked on these boards before, this Question, Most of the People who claim to be in the Tea Party are Older retired Americans, I want someone to explain to me, how anyone in the Tea Party could possibly vote Republican. A Republican vote is a vote against Retired Seniors. Someone please tell me why these Seniors would vote against themselves.

    May 6, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  24. Cow

    Too true. Reagan's probably been spinning for the last few years. With today's Republican nitwits running the show he'd be derided as a tax-raising RINO and run out of office.

    May 6, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  25. mike

    Although his personal life is troubled i will withhold my Trolling as Arnold is right about this. Even a flawed person "and we all are in some ways flawed" can be correct. Not just republicans but both sides must be willing to to go to the center now and then to make things work.

    May 6, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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