“When Biden holds a press conference, everyone covers it. And when Trump does something…even when he sneezes, they hide it,” he said. “The headlines are all Biden, or all Trump, so there’s no room for any of these other guys. How do you build a name for yourself?”
Schwarzenegger himself was an obvious exception in his own political career. In 2003, the movie star and bodybuilding champion shocked the California establishment and wider political universe 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 a champion of the environment 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 on FaceTime, a cigar dangled from his mouth as his pet pig, Schnelly, wandered at his feet. A Schwarzenegger aide joked that this was probably our only interview featuring a squealing pig. (Alas, they were right.)
Public polls showed large majorities of voters worry about Biden’s age and mental health and almost as many worry about the legal quagmire Trump finds himself in. Yet the former president leads Republicans by wide margins in 2024 state and national primary polls. And even as Biden has consolidated most of his party, some members have begun to call out its shortcomings.
Schwarzenegger directly addressed these concerns.
“People are looking for new blood. They’re looking for something new and powerful because the issues are so complex and so important that you need someone with energy,” Schwarzenegger said.
He discussed the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. And he suggested that deep down, Americans still yearn for the type of optimistic candidate who could — however improbable — bring them together.
“It’s like a football team,” he said, adding that few people care which party the players are members of. “You don’t give a damn about any of that. You say, “Together we are a strong team and we can win.” So this is what we need to do with America. We need to bring Democrats and Republicans together. Both parties have very intelligent and very talented people.
Schwarzenegger was more circumspect when asked about his interest in Debate of November 30 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 point is, but I think it might be interesting,” he said. “You know, it’s show business. It gives them a platform.
He said he plans to connect.
When 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 shoes as governor, joked saying DeSantis “looked great in his white rubber boots,” referring to the virus. photograph of Florida’s governor touring hurricane damage last year.