Sept. 3 — Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the campaign trail in southern California Wednesday, but he was noticeably absent in the evening’s debate among the California gubernatorial candidates. Chris Matthews asked Arnold why he is a Republican, how he’s changed since the 70s, the arguments at the Kennedy dinner table and more. Scroll below to read the transcript.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that the 1970s was a totally different era. You know, it was the era was a decade where we promoted bodybuilding. Remember, we tried promoting pumping iron and all those things, so you said outrageous things to make the headlines in the newspapers. You tried to build up the sport.
Remember, there were only a few hundred gymnasiums in America at the time when I came over here. Now there are hundreds of thousands. So we were very successful with our campaign to promote bodybuilding, to promote fitness, the health industry and all of that. Everything is booming.
But, of course, then when you run for a political campaign, then you look back and say, “oh, you know, if I would have known that I am running for governor, there are certain things I wouldn’t have said, I wouldn’t have done.” It’s a double-edged sword, kind of.
MATTHEWS: Well, I just want to get to that point. Was that the truth, what you said? If it was the truth, have you changed? Or was it just B.S.? Was it just building up your career?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, as I explained in my tape when I did the DVD for “Pumping Iron”. I explained very well of what is going on in the movie, “Pumping Iron.” Even in that movie, I said a lot of things that were not true. It was only to dramatize situations-to dramatize things in order to make people shocked, to say, I am interested to watch this guy. This is an interesting personality. This guy is like a machine and all those things. So that was the idea.
MATTHEWS: But how are you different? I mean, everybody changes. I mean, George Foreman is different than he was 30 years ago. Are you different?
SCHWARZENEGGER: You change because those were the crazy times. Now I have a family, that I’m married, I have children and all this. Now, I’m thinking much more about, first of all, what is best for the family. I am a family man now. I only think about families, number one, and the most important thing, I take the kids to school, I pick them up, I do the homework with them and all those things. Maria and I will do things together. It is a totally different thing. It is like 30 years later.
MATTHEWS: Do you recognize yourself from back then?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes. Because, you know, there’s always been a crazy side about me, and I think that’s what made me big.
MATTHEWS: Is it gone?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Not everything is gone. I am me. One thing is true is when I was 25 years old, and now I am 56-year-old man that is married and has children and is running for governor.
MATTHEWS: A different man? Are you a different man?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I then thought about how can I build myself up. How can I make my career better? How can I become a big star? How can I get rich? Today I’m thinking only about what can I give back to California. What can I give back to America because I’ve gotten so much. So, it’s like a whole different Arnold.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the big question: A lot of people are trying to figure out your politics. This is the central question out here. You said, at this rally just now, that you’re a Republican. But, you also said, I got to live with this Democrat all the time, and you’re married to the Kennedy family, and all those dinners and thanksgiving and get-togethers. What if you had to explain the big running argument that makes you a Republican in a Democratic family, what makes you a Republican in those arguments?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, we always have major arguments up there in Hyannisport when we get together for those dinners-or in Washington-because the Kennedys never want to sit to the far right. So we have a problem right there with the seating arrangement. But besides that...
MATTHEWS: The big stuff now. I want the big stuff. Are they a bunch of lefties? What is the issue?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I think should you train with weights three times a day. He don’t believe in that. So we fight over those things. So those are the kinds of things we argue...
MATTHEWS: I’m trying to get to, why are you a Republican? A lot of people on the far right out here say you’re not really a Republican because you might raise taxes if there’s an emergency, or you’re not pro-life, or you’re not against gay rights. But what makes you positively a Republican? That’s what I want to know.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, if you let me talk, then I can tell you: First of all, let me tell that you the Kennedys have probably tried for 26 years now to make me into a Democrat. It didn’t work. I am a Republican.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I am a fiscally Republican. I am fiscally conservative, which means that I believe that we should not spend more than we have. This is the problem that we have in this state. We’ve gotten into this mess because of they continued spending, spending, spending.
And then as soon as they see there’s a problem, that they’ve spent money that doesn’t really exist, that they never had, that they have to borrow, then they go and punish the people by taxing, taxing, taxing. I’m against it. What I say is that we should do the same things as we teach our children. We say always to the children, don’t spend more than you have. If Gray Davis would have done that, we wouldn’t have this mess. We would have a balanced budget.
MATTHEWS: How come George Bush has a $480 billion deficit? He’s a Republican with a Republican Congress.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, there’s a war. There’s a war that is being waged. There is some problems in Iraq. It’s a whole different thing when the federal government has a problem like this. But, remember one thing, that’s not a good excuse, because California has always been ahead of the curve. Even though, when the federal economic situation went down, we also went down, but we always were ahead by a certain percentage.
Now we are below. It would take us years to come back. That’s what the experts are saying. That’s why I want to become governor, because I know I can bring the businesses back. I can bring the jobs back, and bring back again this positive environment that once existed here.
MATTHEWS: Right. Thank you.
SCHWARZENEGGER: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Good to have you.
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