Amid the looming California recall effort, Politico spoke with a showbiz insider with a unique view on the process: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The last action hero, of course, was elected governor in the state’s 2003 recall election.
Schwarzenegger says the current governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, is doing something “very smart” in that he has responded to the recall by getting out of Sacramento.
“He is traveling around the state, is being seen everywhere, is involved and engaged with the vaccine, is involved with education,” Schwarzenegger told Politico on Wednesday. “I see him on the news all the time now. And you know, he’s handling this situation really well. That is already a victory.”
He sees both the 2003 recall and the current one in terms of “dissatisfaction” rather than political parties. Indeed, one of Newsom’s greatest advantages is that there is no challenger with name recognition, so inertia is on his side. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday supports that idea.
And party affiliation won’t help much, Schwarzenegger says.
“The Republican party is, like I have said, dying at the box office. This is the crazy thing here, when they say it’s a ‘power grab’ of the Republicans. Let me tell you, the [California] Republicans couldn’t even get anyone elected. It’s ludicrous — the Republican Party doesn’t exist. These are the signatures of the ordinary folks that have signed on.”
So then, as Arnold notes, the lack of contenders, political party influence and the short runway to the likely November vote clears the path for an outsider, like Schwarzenegger himself, to enter the fray. And he has some suggestions.
“What would happen if George Clooney would run for the governorship? What if Brad Pitt would run? If Oprah Winfrey would run?” said the former governor. “We don’t know, so there will be an interesting answer to do a poll like that.”
Asked if he will endorse anyone, Schwarzenegger said no, but that does not mean he doesn’t have opinions.
“No, I don’t get involved in that at all. I try to be, in this case, the elder statesman,” said Arnold, “one that understands the phenomenon of a recall, that understands why people are dissatisfied, that understands what needs to be done and is not being done.”
So have any high-profile figures sought the Governator’s advice? If so, who?
“All I can tell you is that I’ve had many people come to me for advice over the period of these last few months,” Schwarzenegger told Politico. “I don’t talk about who, but I can tell you, a lot of people. And I can tell you also — that I will never say what we talked about.”
As for the names he mentions, Clooney, of course, has talked about politics, but mostly in terms of candidates he is supporting. Winfrey has endorsed the last three Democratic candidates for president, and actively campaigned for Presidents Biden and Obama.
Pitt has recently become more vocal about politics — quite literally. He used his 2020 Oscar-acceptance speech to address Senate Republicans’ impeachment tactics, and he helped voice an all-star World Series ad supporting Biden in the fall.