Schwarzenegger: I'll take Obama's call 'when he's president'
Barack Obama has great ideas on energy and the environment, and his proposals seem in line for a country hungry for change. Meanwhile, John McCain's campaign-trail pronouncements are at odds with his previous positions, leading voters to take what he says now with a grain of salt. Oh yeah, and he's OK with keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years.
This standard set of Democratic talking points received another airing Sunday in a prominent politician's interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Except this time a Democrat wasn't the messenger. It was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most prominent members of the Republican Party and an endorser of John McCain's presidential candidacy.
Schwarzenegger agrees with Democratic candidate Obama on energy, environmental and education issues as well as on the need for a timeline to withdraw from Iraq, but he also is friends with McCain, who gained a reputation as a maverick in the Senate although he's been reaching out more to the right-wing base of his party.
Perhaps demonstrating a lack of confidence in his own November pick, the movie star-turned-politician said he would be willing to entertain serving in Obama's White House "when he's president." On This Week Schwarzenegger was asked about reports that Obama would consider naming him "energy czar."
Stephanopoulos tried to pin Schwarzenegger down on the question, asking if the governor "would at least take that call" from Obama offering such a position.
"I would take his call now, I will take his call when he's president. Any time" Schwarzenegger said. Perhaps realizing the pronouncement he just made, he backtracked a bit. "Remember, no matter who is president, I don't see this as a political thing, I see this as we always have to help no matter what the administration is."
The popular Republican governor of a solidly blue state also tried to sell McCain as more of a maverick than the candidate has been presenting himself as. Stephanopoulos reminded Schwarzenegger of McCain's recent endorsements of offshore drilling, and President Bush's economic and health policies.
"What is being said on those presidential campaigns is one thing. But what people have done in the past is something else," Schwarzenegger said, promoting McCain as a maverick who is "interested in molding his ideas together with Democratic ideas" to find compromise.
"Sounds like you're saying don't listen to what he says on the campaign trail," Stephanopoulos charged, to which Schwarzenegger insisted he just wanted to remind voters to judge McCain on his record.
Schwarzenegger seemed also to struggle in his defense of McCain when the host reminded him of his endorsement for a timeline to withdraw troops from Iraq. He reminded viewers that McCain wouldn't mind not pulling out of Iraq for a century, a declaration that liberal groups and anti-war activists have hammered him over.
"I made clear that I believe in the timeline, but I said we should never leave, and just walk out the door," Schwarzenegger said, contrasting his position with an argument that no candidate is making on the campaign trail. "it could take years ... but I think that Sen. McCain is absolutely correct to be honest with the people and to look at them in the eye and to say, 'I cannot promise you we will not have some troops in there in Iraq in many more years from now. It could be 100 years, he said that."
Schwarzenegger continued McCain's argument with the caveat that the US has had troops in Germany and Japan since World War II ended in 1945.
This video is from ABC's ThisWeek, broadcast July 13, 2008.
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Newsweek" reported he might want you to be his energy czar. Would you be interested?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't think about taking on a national role. There's so many challenges we have in California.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If he were president and he called?
SCHWARZENEGGER: It's hypothetical. I'm always ready to help in any way I can the United States. I've committed myself to be a public servant. I said to myself, this country has given me everything. It's my time now, I'm through with the acting and all of those things that I've done, body building, even though I love all of those things still. For me, it's important to give something back, do my work without getting paid, and give something back. No matter what i do. If i have this position or not, I will be traveling around the world and I will be promoting to be energy dependent, renewables, solar, windmills, all of those things, protecting the environment, protecting the oceans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If he were president and he called, you would at least take that call?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I would take his call now, I will take his call when he's president. Any time. Remember, no matter who is president, I don't see this as a political thing, I see this as we always have to help no matter what the administration is.