He gave President George W. Bush a boost with his nationally televised speech at the Republican Convention in New York. Now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be ready to lend his star power to the Bush re-election effort again.
All signs are pointing to a last-minute pre-election visit by Schwarzenegger to Ohio, which holds 20 key electoral votes. If he makes the trip, it would add a dramatic element to a race that's still up in the air.
In a White House race that remains a toss-up, a lot of attention is turning to the swing state of Ohio -- a battleground that Schwarzenegger is making tentative plans to visit next week. Schwarzenegger says he told Bush he's open to the idea.
"Simply because I introduced his father there in 1988 and also in 1992. And it's a place where we do business. It's kind of a second home to me. So, there's a reason for going there. But other than that, I will not travel around from state to state to campaign for the president because I have to stay here," Schwarzenegger said.
The governor's campaign team isn't ready to make the official announcement just yet.
"I think it's likely, as we've been saying, that something will take place between now and Election Day. We just don't have any set plans yet," said Schwarzenegger advisor Rob Stutzman.
A campaign trip on behalf of the president would help soothe California's Republican Party, which is unhappy with Schwarzenegger's decision this week to support Proposition 71, the stem cell measure, and Proposition 62, the open primary measure.
"The Republican Party has more areas of agreement than disagreement with Gov. Schwarzenegger," said California Republican Party spokeswoman Karen Hanretty.
Republican operatives are enthused with the prospect of Schwarzenegger lending his popularity to the Bush team.
"What you're trying to do is you're trying to create that sense of energy in the final stretch," said Republican consultant Kevin Spillane. "And I think Gov. Schwarzenegger is all about energy. So, I think he's going to have a very positive impact for the Bush campaign in Ohio."
But Democratic strategists say there's a political downside for Schwarzenegger's bipartisan image and his support from moderate Democrats if he makes the trip.
"Democrats have a lot at stake in this election," said Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio. "And they don't want their governor, who should be working on problems here, campaigning for a president that's been very anti-California on the environment, on choice and on economic issues."
The Ohio Republican Party declined comment on the possible visit.
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