“When Biden holds a press conference, everyone covers it. And when Trump does something … even when he sneezes, they cover it,” he said. “The headlines are all-Biden, or all-Trump, so there’s no room for any of those other guys to get in. How do you build a name?”
Schwarzenegger, himself, was an obvious exception in his own political career. In 2003, the A-list movie star and bodybuilding champion shocked California’s establishment and the political universe writ large when he ran for governor in the state’s recall election and won. A Republican, he spent years in California governing from the center, including becoming an environmental champion and pushing to end partisan gerrymandering.
POLITICO caught up with Schwarzenegger this week as he prepared to mark two decades since the recall victory with a return to the state capital in Sacramento on Friday. Speaking over FaceTime, a cigar hung from his mouth as his pet pig, Schnelly, wandered by his feet. A Schwarzenegger aide joked that this was likely our only interview that featured an oinking pig. (Alas, they were correct.)
Public polls have shown large majorities of voters concerned about Biden’s age and mental fitness and nearly as many worried about the legal morass Trump is in. Still, the former president leads Republicans by wide margins in state and national 2024 primary polls. And while Biden has consolidated most of his party, some members have started to speak up about his deficiencies.
Schwarzenegger directly addressed those concerns.
“People are looking for new blood. They look for something new and with power because the problems are so complex, and they’re so big, that you need someone that has energy,” Schwarzenegger said.
He reminisced about the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. And he suggested that Americans deep down still yearn for the kind of optimistic candidate that could — however unlikely — bring them together.
“It’s like a football team,” he said, adding that few care what party the players are members of. “You don’t give a shit about any of that. You say, ‘Together, we are a strong team, and we can win.’ So that’s what you have to do with America. You have to bring Democrats and Republicans together. Both parties have very smart people, very talented people.”
Schwarzenegger was more circumspect when queried about his interest in the Nov. 30 debate between Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida moderated by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“I don’t know what the purpose of it is, but I think it could be interesting,” he said. “You know, it’s show business. It gives them a platform.”
He said he planned to tune in.
Asked if he looked better in cowboy boots than DeSantis, Schwarzenegger, who was influenced by both Bush presidents and even copied their presidential seal on his footwear as governor, joked that DeSantis “looked very good in his white, rubber boots,” referencing the viral photograph of the Florida governor touring hurricane damage last…
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