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. Aleks Yakubssohn

    Reagan, for starters, wouldn't have gone to an inauguration of a usurper like Putin

    May 6, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  2. miller

    Things have gotten so bad for the common person in the US over the past 30 years and Reagan started it. Can you say deregulation and borrowing from Social Security. However, Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault for continuing these failed policies. I share the ire of the Tea Party; however, sans the hate toward gays, atheists, minorities, and the uninsured, etc... Bullies always turn their self-loathing towards the innocent.

    The question/answer is not what Reagan would do; we know that already. Rather, it is term limits, term limits, term limits. Restrictions on gift giving and access. Take away the reward and you remove the incentive for 'bad' behavior.

    May 6, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. tallcasino

    Shut up Arnold and go back making those stupid 80's type movies..

    May 6, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  4. RINO Bil

    Quite frankly I am pleasantly surprised and heartened at the perception former governor Schwartzenegger is putting forth. Republicans and Tea Partiers should take note of what Arnold is saying. The GOP does not need litmus tests, they need votes and I will not contribute to and vote for members of a party that insult me because I don't agree with everything they espouse. They need my votes more than I need them.

    May 6, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. Lucky18

    anyone listening to ARNOLD? Do you think the relikgious right is listening? ARNOLD the "low life"!
    Sure they're listening...NOT!!!

    May 6, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. Lucky18

    Reagen would be thrown from the bus in this Republicasn Party!

    May 6, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. ED FL

    Probably sleep through everything and anything.He was and will always be considered a poor President by real people . Of course his Hollywood group Like old Swartzy will always take his side ,he also was a phoney movie dude that made and had money . That is all it takes to be considered a big shot in the world of fantasys.Reagen was a fantasy President.

    May 6, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. grive

    by next friday arnold will be kicked out of the repuplican party for thinking like that. compromise is a bad word in the gop.

    May 6, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. j

    I'm a conservative who will be voting for Obama this year.

    The Republican Party isn't the conservative party. They are the evangelical religious fanatic nutjob party. They hate people like me, and they will never get my vote.

    Keep out of my bedroom. Keep out of my wallet. Keep out of my wife's vagina. Keep your Etch-O-Sketch president...

    May 6, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. likeAplan

    At the end of the day, conservatives will get their asses in line and support any Republican candidate on the ticket. Ideology is good campaigning.

    May 6, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. hamsta

    sounds like arnold spent to much time with the freaks in california.

    May 6, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Thatguy371

    He makes good points, but the repubs won't listen. They're too rigid... they know everything... just ask them. And they're still thinking they'll win in Nov. Good luck with that fairy tale.

    May 6, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. 2tired2care

    I lean left but always thought Arnold did a decent job in office. He's more moderate/middle of the road.

    May 6, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. Joyce

    Arnold that word COMPROMISE is a dirty word for the GOP's , they will now cast you as an outsider for castigating their rotten belief not to compromise. Haaaaa, lets see how they will respond to you .

    May 6, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. TommyTT

    Now that the election is approaching, the Grand Old Party is going to try to swing their Titanic away from the far right iceberg and pretend they're moderate and centrist.

    May 6, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh come on... Reagan didn't have enough guts to buck the party. He would have played right along with the tea partiers.

    May 6, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. jane

    Forget it...the Repubs arrogent, racist mentality will continue to drive them

    May 6, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Jacob

    Arnold is not a republican. In reality he is a conservative democrat.

    May 6, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. TM

    Niether Schwarzenegger nor Reagan have any place in today's Grand Old Tea Party. They would both be purged in the name of extremist ideological purity and slavish obedience to the delusions of Grover Norquist.

    May 6, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    What would Ronnie do? Well, if he had an honest bone in his body, he would admit that George HW was right. Trickle down economics IS voodoo economics.

    Too bad we'll never know what Ronald Reagan really thought when these policies were being enforced. America is learing the hard way. Well, working class America is. Mitt Romney's crowd, not so much.

    May 6, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Clint, Wa.

    Different times, different problems, Ronald Regan is dead, get over it and move on to the 21st century.

    May 6, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. Russ

    It is universally accepted that Ronald Reagan was a great president the same has it is universally accept that Obama is a terrible president; but raising taxes is NOT the answer as we are struggling every day to even pay for the gas in our vehicle. And make no mistake, if the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year. EVERYBODY'S taxes will go up at leat 50% (the lowest rate increases from 10% to 15%). That's a 50% increase. Also, the child tax credit gets cut IN HALF from $1,000/child to $500. These are economy killers.

    May 6, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Ron Paul is what Ronald Reagan talked about!!!

    May 6, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    A quick and winning political formula: Whatever St. Ronnie would do, do the opposite.

    May 6, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Erik

    Arnold has no clue as to what Ronald Reagan would do currently. Arnold knows nothing of being a conservative. He should run again as a liberal that would suit him. Arnold might want to learn what values are it might have kept his marriage together.

    May 6, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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