Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | August 12, 2003

How long will Arnold duck issues

Schwarzenegger has been a candidate for almost a week now, yet he has avoided talking about any issues at all. In fact, Time and Newsweek both sport Arnold on their covers, despite his refusal to talk issues with their reporters.

The one issue that has emerged -- that Arnold backed Prop. 187 -- appears to be issue one Democrats will weild against him.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters Monday, Bustamante made it clear he will use the issue against Schwarzenegger.

"When we made the announcement [to run] last Thursday, we knew the same group of folks who were around Wilson were around Arnold as well," Bustamante said. "You have to be able to look past the blitz to be able to see where people are really at, who's providing them their inspiration."

"This is an extremely diversified state. Probably one of the most diversified places on the face of the planet. It's more than just a Latino community," Bustamante added. When voters "start looking at candidates, they're going to see the differences." [...]

The initiative and Wilson remain a unifying force for Latinos, here and nationally, said Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino rights organization.

"Who knows what percentage will turn out for this election," Munoz said late Monday from Washington, D.C. "But what history does tell us is that Prop. 187 and Pete Wilson have galvanized Latino voters more than anything else in recent history. And for California to be right back in the thick of that debate suggests that [Republicans] ... have not learned that lesson."

As I wrote yesterday, Prop. 187 and the presence of Pete Wilson as Arnold's deputy campaign manager will be HUGE issues in the race.

California is also an extremeley green state, yet Arnold drives around in a Hummer (he owns five). He owns stock in Phillip Morris. He did not vote in six of the last eight elections. etc.

Schwarzenegger's views on some social issues are solid -- strong support for gay rights, a hostility toward political encroachment by the Christian Right. But this has earned him the emnity of California's right wing -- the dominant force in the state GOP.

Its clear that Arnold leads the polls right now, based on his star power alone. But it's also clear that no poll can accurately predict this race, as there is no historical precedent upon which to base a turnout model. It's also clear that Arnold will face incoming fire from both his right and left flanks. All the while Arnold is avoiding serious political reporters who may -- gasp! -- ask a political question. Better to stick with the star-struck Hollywood "press".

Watch the media spin turn against Arnold really soon unless he starts talking politics. He can't convince more people to support him unless he talks about the issues. He is a political tabula rasa, with supporters projecting their political beliefs onto him. So if he talks about the issues, he risks losing existing supporters.

At this point, given the pressures he faces, he really only has one way to go.

Posted August 12, 2003 09:34 AM


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