Schwarzenegger appeals to left and right in re-election bid
LOS ANGELES (AP) – In celebrity-studded events this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger conspicuously advertised his moderate Republican credentials, signing Democratic bills to combat global warming and withdraw state investments from companies in war-torn Sudan.
“Democrats and Republicans can work together,” the governor told an audience in Malibu, trumpeting a central plank of his re-election drive.
But a less-visible promotion was taking place, almost simultaneously.
In a Republican-sponsored advertisement being distributed by telephone, Schwarzenegger is portrayed as tough and resolute on illegal immigration – an issue with potent appeal among Republican conservatives. His Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, is depicted as a softy.
“It is critical that we protect our borders, which is why Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have given drivers licenses to illegal immigrants,” a narrator says in an urgent voice in the brief, recorded spot.
“Governor Schwarzenegger sent over 1,000 National Guard troops to protect our border, but Phil Angelides says he will pull those troops off the border,” the ad says.
The ad never mentions the governor was initially hesitant to deploy the troops, or that he later rejected a Bush administration request to send 1,500 more to the border.
The ad underscores a political reality for the actor-governor as he seeks a second term – in a state with a Democratic tilt, he is trying to appeal to independents and Democrats at the same time he needs to motivate Republicans and other conservative-leaning voters.
Angelides consultant Bill Carrick accused the governor of “pandering to his political base with targeted phone calls while he is masquerading as – almost pretending to be – a Democrat.”
“He’s continually changing his positions,” Carrick said.
But Schwarzenegger’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, said the calls use facts to point out the “tremendous differences between Phil Angelides and Governor Schwarzenegger.”
“We will continue to communicate to voters, through television advertising, volunteer phone calls … all the way through Nov. 7,” Schmidt said.
The state Republican Party ads, which end with a pitch to mail in a ballot for Schwarzenegger, are part of a major, election-turnout drive being run by the governor’s campaign and the state GOP.
Campaign and party officials use computerized data to identify receptive voters, who then receive carefully crafted ad pitches, much the way retail firms identify and market goods to consumers.
Party officials confirmed the content of the recorded call on immigration, but would not say how many calls were made or to what areas. The calls are directed at voters believed to be supportive, or leaning toward, the governor.
Schwarzenegger’s very public move to the middle has paid dividends. After a spat of dealmaking with Democrats this year on issues from climate change to boosting the minimum wage, he holds a double-digit edge in independents polls over Angelides.
The governor has long faulted the federal government for the nation’s porous borders. On June 1, he agreed to send the state National Guard to the border but called it a flawed approach, saying a comprehensive solution is needed that would include a temporary worker program along with tougher border security.
Angelides, who opposed sending troops to the border, has said that if elected he will pressure President Bush to recall members of California’s National Guard from Iraq.
Tracking such calls is something of a trade secret in California, where statewide candidates are not required to disclose detailed information about them or who’s being contacted.
Angelides’ campaign is running a recorded telephone call featuring former President Clinton. “He’s on your side,” Clinton says.
John Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in California who once worked as an analyst for congressional Republicans, said carefully crafted phone messages can be effective at galvanizing voters.
Compared to political TV ads, “it’s the difference between fishing with a net and fishing with a spear gun,” Pitney said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.