Arnold Steinberg is a political strategist and analyst. Here is his "interview" with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first question deals with “paycheck protection,” an initiative that would prohibit public employee unions from forcing their members to contribute to political campaigns.
Q: You’ve slated your ballot propositions with the ballot measure on paycheck protection.
A: Yes, mine were losing. Paycheck protection was winning.
Q: Some say paycheck protection was certain to win, until you endorsed it.
A: The teachers union borrowed $50 million against future dues to fight it. I’ll try again next ye-uh, when they’re broke.
Q: A secret plan…
A: …even from my donors. A sequel. Ha-ha.
Q: No one knew?
A: Only my fundraisers, 10%, and advisers, 15%.
Q: What are those numbers?
A: Commissions. Like producer fees in Hollywood. 10% on money raised, 15% on money spent.
Q: Some say that your special election is vendor-driven…
A: Those who say that, they want to be my vendors.
Q: Aren’t you proving their point?
A: This is MY movie. Total Recall.
Q: Isn’t that movie old.
A: We are into DVD.
Q: Actually, Garry South, the political consultant who originally elected Davis, says your political consultants decided in advance on a special election. Then looked for ballot propositions.
A: But we had that proposition to reform public employee pensions.
Q: Isn’t that the one that did away with pensions for widows and orphans of cops and firefighters who died in the line of duty?
A: A minor mistake. We withdrew it.
Q: Your reaction to criticism of your special election, since your ballot propositions were nearly certain to lose?
A: Lights, camera, action, energy.
Q: Your reapportionment measure is too late for 2006 and probably would not apply for 2008, since the 2000census data would be too old. Isn’t it a sham?
A: It would cost seats in Congress for California Republicans that could jeopardize Republican control of the House. And you call this a sham?
Q: Oh, c’mon, what’s the real reason?
A: Well, last year, when I was popular, we raised plenty from rich Republicans for legislative races, without gaining a single seat. Now, with this ballot proposition, we blame our bumbling on the districts..
Q: What about your TV spot featured a woman saying 76 would increase education funding…
A: What is 76?
Q: Isn’t that a problem – that people don’t know the proposition numbers?
A: That’s why we say to vote yes on everything.
Q: But the drug companies, your allies, are spending $90 million to say no on a drug discount proposition they don’t like. Won’t that confuse voters even more?
A: They should stick with steroids. Anyway, it doesn’t mat-tuh.
A: The woman in my other ad said, “Everything in Sacramento is screwed up.”
Q: Including you?
A: No, I am TERRIFIC. President Bush is screwed up.
Q: He’s not in Sacramento.
A: But he has visited there. It’s his fault if I lose.
A: He came here two weeks ago to Kah-lee-FORN-Yuh, without any FEMA money.
Q: Is that why your campaign criticized him?
A: If we need an earthquake, I can move heaven on earth. I can do DIS.
Q: Don’t you have enough problems? Why take on a President of your own party?
A: His trip here to the Reagan Library reminded Maria, I’m a Republican.
Q: Is Maria for your ballot propositions?
A: She speaks at my women’s conference.
Q: Back to Bush. His Beverly Hills fundraiser had been scheduled for months. The money was going to be raised anyway. Why did you and your spokesmen attack him??
A: When we lose, we can blame him.
Q: Didn’t you turn off your base by attacking him?
A: I oppose drivers licenses for gay illegals.
A: No drivers license for gays. No marriages for illegal aliens.
Q: I still don’t get it.
A: You have a language problem. I meant, no marriage license for gays, no drivers license for aliens.
Q: Why didn’t you push for a spending limit during your honeymoon?
A: On my honeymoon, I listen to my wife.
Q: Seriously, though, when you came into office on the recall, your popularity was high, and the fiscal crisis was on everyone’s mind. Wasn’t that the time to push…
A: That’s why I put everything on the line to borrow $15 billion.
Q: But that was a Democrat plan, and without any fiscal reform?
A: Warren Beatty liked it.
Q: Isn’t he going to run against you next year?
A: No, maybe meathead Rob Reiner.
Q: Back to basics. Don’t you admit it was a mistake to squander your political capital to bail out Democrat spending under Gray Davis?
A: I said, then, approve this, and I would never ask for more borrowing.
Q: But then, you endorsed a $3 billion plan for taxpayers to subsidize private, for-profit companies in the stem cell business.
A: This was politically correct. Imagine, if it cures diabetes, these entrepreneurs can make. And if it’s a flop, they lose nothing. Only the taxpayers are screwed.
Q: Is that good policy?
A. This was not simply a bond issue, but a ten year spending program. The taxpayers spend this for the program, even if it’s failing. So, clearly, it fits normal government standards. Now, in this special election, we will limit spending, otherwise taxes go up.
Q: Are you going to raise taxes ?
A: If my proposition 76 fails, I have no choice.
Q: Why will 76 lose?
A: Scooter was indicted.
Q: But your newest TV spot ends with, “Say yes to 76, say no to a tax increase next year.” Will that get votes?
A: It’s win-win. If 76 passes, I take credit. If it fails, as was always likely, I have an excuse for raising taxes.
Q: Won’t conservatives rebel?
A: I have said, my daughter should not get an abortion, unless I am notified.
Q: Why did you keep running your same TV spots, with no effect?
A: Our pollsters said we were making “significant gains.”
Q: Why do your pollsters always show good numbers?
A: We pay them more.
Q: Who hired them?
A: My consultants.
Q: Do you trust them?
A: They fiercely disagree on everything, but they agree totally on having a special election, spending big money, and getting an upbeat pollster.
Q: Do your consultants make a lot on this fiasco?
A: By Hollywood standards, that’s how I judge them. Movies lose money, but producers make it. It is the same here.
Q: What do your strategists do?
Q: Do any of them actually strategize?
A: Do not ever suggest that I am strategic or would hire people who think ahead. I hire sound bites.
Q: If your numbers were down, why did they build the campaign around you?
A: I’m the star.
Q: Then, why did they remove you from your own ad campaign?
A: Three days later, they put me back, with the biggest ad buy ever.
Q: But that was a mea culpa spot, where you apologized to voters. You went from macho to humble.
A: We were desperate.
A. In Hollywood ,we spend $40 or $50 million for a normal flop. These billionaire Republican donors want to spend less for a flop. Worse – the small donors do not want a flop.
Q: So, you admit the tens of millions on your TV ads, earlier in the year and more recently, failed….
A: Heavy lifting cannot be done without steroids.
Q: But, last week, the same day you released your forgiveness ad, your pollster said your campaign was working well. But right-wing radio and conservative websites reported your propositions were gaining, even leading.
A: Wonderful news. These right-wingers are very pro-American.
Q: Wait a minute, those numbers were from YOUR campaign. If your poll numbers were correct, then why would you reverse course in the last week?
A: Harriet Myers would not campaign for us.
Q: Thank you, governor, for clearing everything up.