Though he still won’t commit to campaigning out of state for President Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is blitzing California in the days before the election, stumping for legislative candidates and urging voters to follow his advice on a string of ballot measures.
Schwarzenegger appeared at a rally here Monday afternoon to tout an initiative, Proposition 1A, that would make it tougher for the state to tap local government revenue during financial crises. He told reporters afterward that “we haven’t really made up our mind yet” as to whether he would campaign for Bush in the last week of the presidential race.
He is considering a single trip to Ohio -- there and back the same day, probably Friday.
“Now I can squeeze in a quick trip because I have my own plane,” he said. “So there is a way of doing it. But I’m not going to hop around from state to state because the people did not elect me to do that.”
Schwarzenegger sponsors an annual fitness weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and has made clear that Ohio is the only state besides California where he would campaign for Bush.
In the days before the election, however, Schwarzenegger is setting aside time to press his political agenda. Over the weekend he led a rally for Assemblywoman Shirley Horton (R-Chula Vista). And he has agreed to make another campaign stop for Horton before the Nov. 2 election, she said.
Schwarzenegger campaigned for Republican Assembly candidate Steve Poizner in Menlo Park on Monday. He is scheduled to go to Vacaville today for state Senate candidate Gary Podesto.
On Saturday, the governor will set out on a one-day bus tour from San Diego to Bakersfield, making campaign stops along the way.
Later that night he may go to Las Vegas to hand out an award to the winner of the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition -- an event he quietly attended last year during the gubernatorial transition.
Schwarzenegger said he could not justify long campaign trips out of state for Bush.
“I was sent by the people of California to Sacramento to represent them,” he said. “To do the job. To change things around and bring the economy back and work very hard for the state of California. So that’s my primary objective. This is my job -- to work for California and not go out on the campaign trial. And this is why I will stay here in California.”
For Schwarzenegger, the presidential race poses a dilemma. As a Republican, he is expected to support his party’s leader. And he did that with an enthusiastic speech for Bush at the GOP’s national convention.
But Schwarzenegger represents a state that is considered a lock for Democratic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry. He risks alienating his Democratic and independent supporters if he helps Bush too much.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who shared the stage with Schwarzenegger at the rally, said later that the governor demonstrated his loyalty to Bush at the Republican convention “and I think that hurt him in the state of California.”