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. Ambrose Smith

    Reagan would have been called a RINO today.

    May 6, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Jeffer65

    Arnie is right. he gets it.

    May 6, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. JustSaying2U

    It would appear the "governator" is auditioning for his "RINO" badge...

    May 6, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. pepsee

    Inclusion? Ripublican party is a "only white people's" party, there is nothing called "inclusion" in that party. Look at all the conventions – you will barely see people from any other color. Have heard of Republican white supremists but never heard of something like democrat white supremists. Hope a few non-whites that didn't notice this before will notice it now.

    May 6, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  5. CBR

    Everyone seems to think they know what Ronald Reagan would do today. They are reliving the Reagan years as they believe they remember them. What no one really knows is what Ronald Reagan would do today. One thing for sure, Ronald Reagan would be very upset about comments that are made about President Obama and the First Lady by some Republicans. He just would not tolerate that.

    May 6, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. Martin

    I read the piece in the OpEd section of today's LA Times. It made a lot of sense. It will be dismissed in the usual terms - Ahnauld wasn't a proper Republican, the LA Times is just another liberal mainstream media mouthpiece - the usual cliches.

    Trying to warn the Republicans of their impending fate is like trying to tell an alcoholic that drinking's bad for them. It just doesn't seem to work. They have to hit the wall first. Meanwhile if there's anything worse than an Administration you don't like its one with an ineffective or fractious opposition....absolute power corrupts, no matter whether its left or right.

    May 6, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. Solitaire

    Sounds like Arnold is waking up. His Republican party has be hi-jacked by extremists. Why continue loyalty to a political party without approving of what that party is doing? Illusion? Abandonment of responsibility.

    May 6, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. Uncle Joe

    What the Republican Party needs is someone like a Dwight Eisenhower. "Ike" supported programs like Social Security and didn't try to destroy them like some of the conservative elements that have taken over the GOP. Ike also didn't think much of Barry Goldwater either.

    As a registered Republican I wish the damn conservatives who hijacked our party would just form their own and let the moderate element return to the GOP. Moderate republicans are becoming a dying breed, which is a shame since I doubt that under the banner of so-called conservatism, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and even Ike would never have been nominated for president. God help this country if Robert Taft had been elected in 1952. The USA would have reverted back to the isolationism policies of Harding and Coolidge.

    May 6, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. luke

    Man speaks the truth. I believe Regan raised taxes 8 times. Repubs are so far from the Regan era its not even funny.

    May 6, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. RayJacksonMS

    Wow. Arnie said something coherent and intelligent!

    May 6, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. Harry Bradford

    Compromise=dirty word in today's GOP.

    May 6, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  12. Alan

    Always liked

    May 6, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  13. Tyler Durden

    Pretty Couragous and sensible. Makes great sense. They will excommunicate him for sure.

    May 6, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. Bruno

    What would Reagan do? Become a moderate Democrat.

    May 6, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  15. Jt_flyer

    Reagan would have enjoyed acting with the robe and staff you people love to portray him with.

    May 6, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  16. David

    Facts: The size of government grew drastically during the Reagan administration, And he also raised taxes. He is a false prophet.

    May 6, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Iwandr

    Take a good look at "conservative" in a dictionary and think about whether you really want to be one.

    May 6, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  18. Mandor

    ...“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....

    Ya know, if more republicans stuck to this, and just this, then I'd probably join them. But no, they want to go off on tangents on who did what in who's bedroom, who prays to what god, or who doesn't pray to any god at all, start wars that we don't need to be in (though to be fair, I fault Obama on Libya as well), and embrace every form of corporate welfare they can find (though to be fair, the dems don't put limits on personal welfare until they think their political future is at stake).

    The GOP has come a long way since Reagan... in the wrong direction.

    May 6, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. Reagan80

    If Mr. Schwarzenegger had spoken English at the time of Ronald Reagan, he would realize that what he now calls the "extreme right" WAS mainstream conservatism when Mr. Reagan was President.

    May 6, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  20. Nicecatch

    Arnold is being to reasonable to get through to most of the current crop of republicans. The party has lost its mind and its sanity will only return after they take a few loses over the next few election cycles. This ideological rigidity is like a disease that needs to run its course before it is purged.

    May 6, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. NickD2

    Schwarzenegger was every but as arrogant as some of the hard right zealots he currently wags his finger towards, at least during his first few years in office.
    What so many in both parties forget is that all of us are Americans regardless of our philosophies, and the two extreme edges of both parties are pulling us apart. If we do not move to the center America will not survive

    May 6, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  22. Jim8

    1) He has a message they should listen to.
    2) They won't listen
    3) They ARE the party of big government. TSA, Patriot Act, The Terry Schivo mess, restrictions on women's health care.

    May 6, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. Frank

    Arnold is talking sense to deaf GOP leaders. Boehner cannot control his own caucus thanks to the Tea Party members, for whom compromise is a dirty word. Reagan never signed a pledge to Grover Norquist, who is everything bad about the current gridlock on revenues. The very rich must love Norquist, but he is poison in our political system. like sand in one's gas tank.

    May 6, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. Ace

    The problem with the GOP is that they to accept that the 1950's are over and they also need to stay out of peoples bedrooms and quit shoving the bible down the throats of the American people. ! So much for the party of "less government"

    May 6, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. Karma6338

    Arnold the foreigner is right. There is no Republican Party anymore...just a bunch of fraidy-cats bowing to the extreme right and shrinking the tent to exclude pretty much everybody. Oh, and Sarah Palin will NOT save the Party...that dimwit needs to be OUT of the equation.

    May 6, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
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