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. tony

    I am not that much into politics and I can assure everyone Mr. Obama will win his second term with no problem.

    May 6, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Erik

    All of you libs think we should compromise ? Why should we compromise our values ? You don't.

    May 6, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. PuzzledInPeoria

    Did anyone see the interview in which Leslie Stahl tried to get John Boehner to say the word "compromise?" He refused to do it, and that's why their party is quickly becoming irrelevant. Sadly, during the Washington gridlock in which nothing gets done, both Democrats and Republicans continue to get plenty of campaign contributions from business and industry, PACs and SuperPacs. And so the farce goes on while the citizens suffer.

    May 6, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. michaelam

    2tired2care--Seriously? Arnie did a "decent job?" Do you even live in CA???? He was the worst governor ever!!!! I mean, worse than Pete Wilson and that is pretty bad. He decimated this state with his Executive Orders. His furlough programs did not save the state one dime. However, they caused numerous bankruptcies, foreclosures, loss of businesses, etc..... Arnie was Scott Walker before we even knew who Scott Walker was......his only accomplishment while "governing" our state was protecting us from Big Oil--essentially, Arnie was an environmentalist when it came to energy issues and that drove his crazy party even more crazy.

    May 6, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Erik

    As far as the election goes in November I cannot see anyone wanting more of Obama. He had his chance and he has blown it. Ask yourselves if Reagan had screwed up this bad in his first term and then asked for a second who do you think would have been our President ? It sure would not have been Reagan nor should it be Obama. He does not deserve a second term. If the next President cannot get it right then kick him out as well for the other guy. At some point we will have a President who will work for the American people not for themselves.

    May 6, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. some guy in New Hampshire

    As long as the right wing keeps redefining what "conservative" means and the rest of us, including the press, lets them get away with it, we'll continue to see our politics paralyzed by reactionary, authoritarian fanatics who have nothing to do with true conservatism in the American sense of the word.

    May 6, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. sherron teal

    from what I read Ronald Reagan was noticeably losing his memory immediately after entering the White House in the first term, that's right folks Nancy was basically running everything. Their of course was a huge cover up that Reagan was getting Alzheimers, even his son states this. All that whispering in his ears wasn't for nothing folks!

    May 6, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Brian

    Id actually consider voting republican if more were like this instead of arrogant little children.

    May 6, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Jack

    The new GOP cannot compromise because the Tea Party hold them hostage. The extreme left had the Democrats as hostage and it caused them to collapse until moderates like Clinton came along.

    May 6, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Chris

    Compromise is a dirty word for Republicans, as it should be. In this day, it means that you're vote is for sale along with the Democrats. Problem is, our kids and grandkids will get the bill for buying off the special interest groups.

    To be against compromise is to be against selling my kids into (relative) slavery just so I can pat myself on the back about how compassionate and compromising I am.

    May 6, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Potrzebie

    Let's not forget, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Ollie North subverted the Constitution by supplying arms to the Contras against the will of Congress. They also brought us the crack epidemic by allowing their arms dealers to bring planes stuffed with cocaine back into the country. I wonder what today's GOP would do if they got into power? Oh right, they'd fix elections, fake a power crisis and steal money from old ladies, fail to protect the country from terrorism, start an illegal war, advocate torturing people, trash the economy and throw $700 billion at the banks with no strings attached. Duh.

    May 6, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Harry From Pa

    I agree with Arnold. We have seen for far to long it's my way or the highway attitude, it's too childish for people in our Government who hold these positions. Instead of being the solution they have become part of the problem. The party of Lincoln used to be better than what they are now, they were the party that brought our country together when our country was divided and freed the slaves, now they are the party of No and threaten to tear this country apart because they didn't get things their way.
    As for campaigning, Mitt is boring and only talks to a few people out there, in contrast look at Obama's speech last night, he focused on unity and moving forward. Look at the crowd and how involved they were. Whether you like him or not he knows how to unite and fire people up. So far this year I haven't really seen any Gop except Hermain Cain who could really fire a crowd up.

    May 6, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. Felix El Gato

    Ronald Reagan would have asked Nancy to consult her crystal ball and ask Satan what he should do.

    May 6, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    What would Reagan have done? He would have lied like he did for 8 years, assuming he could remember anything he said, on top of it. That's what Reagan would have done.

    Or, he'd let a rag-tag, start-up, terrorist group blow up a Marine barracks and run from them, turning them into the quickest growing terrorist group on the planet. So, no thanks, I don't want anything from Reagan coming back to haunt us. And given Arnold's track record, who cares what he'd do, as well?!?!?!

    May 6, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. mark trought

    the GOP has stupidly selected a loser in the terminator. loved your movies especially your biography Swharz "TRUE LIES" lol.

    May 6, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Someguy

    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 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. blake

    Spoken as a true RINO. Schwarzenegger has little credibility.

    May 6, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. Richard T.

    Truth hurts the GOP. Just look at what Arizona just enacted. Their WAR ON WOMEN and Planned Parenthood continues. Rethugnican conservatives are hateful of other different from themselves and even many of themselves.

    May 6, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Mark Couvillion

    The former governer of a failed state who cant keep his hamer in his tool box has no credibility to be giving political advice.

    May 6, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. patiat

    Arnold's right. The GOP is only hurting itself with its behavior.

    May 6, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. michael

    who cares about the GOP. every year they isolate, devide, and shrink their base. many become moderate or independent. its just a matter of time before they die. I say good riddance

    May 6, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Aces Full

    Mostly angry hate-filled libs posting here: funny, I thought they were supposed to be the inclusionary party?

    May 6, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Mr. Moderate

    I loved how Gingrich this morning said Allen West was an example of how the Reps are an inclusive party.

    Also, Ronald Reagan could never get elected today, he would be considered a RINO.

    May 6, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. kevin

    I find this very hard to say, but I agree with Arnie.

    May 6, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. fernace

    The new boss is not like the old boss, when it comes to the GOTP! They have managed to castigate every group of people in America, Women, Children,Gays, Blacks, Browns, Elderly, Ill & Poor...except rich white men w/ an "evangelical" bent! IMO, there is nothing evangelical about intruding your personal beliefs & ideology on people, especially when your job is to govern by the laws of the land! And how is this type of behavior Less government intrusion in citizens private lives? It's pretty bad when your own party calls you out! Schwarzenegger sounds logical & educated, Mitt Romney sounds....confused!!

    May 6, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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