Schwarzenegger on the hot seat

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke for the first time about today’s court ruling that California’s law limiting marriage to a man and a woman is unconstitutional to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball.”  Following are excerpts from Monday's interview:

On gay marriage
MATTHEWS, HOST, HARDBALL: Let me ask you about the—the Supreme Court in the county of San Francisco today.  And we have to talk about this because it happened today. 

It is newsworthy—has said that it is unconstitutional to deny people of the same sex a marriage license in this state.  Where do you stand on this? 

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: Well, I think that, first of all, this is probably one of many kinds of events that will take place in the near future. 

I go by what the people have voted, which was Proposition 22.  And I think that this will be now going eventually to the Supreme Court in California, and we will see what the decision is.  And whatever that decision is, we will stay by that, because I believe in abiding by the law and sticking with the law. 

MATTHEWS: But why would you not support the holding of a referendum, an initiative on a constitutional amendment to require that people be from different sexes when they get married in this state? 

SCHWARZENEGGER  Well, I believe in what we have right now, which is, you know, the domestic partnership rights and equal rights.  And I support that 100 percent and have supported that.  And during my campaign, I always talked about that. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  And—but this is the will of the people.  And I think that if that changes because of the Supreme Court of California, then we go with that.  But, right now, this is just the first base of a legal challenge. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems to me the inspiring thing about your political role is that you believe the people should make decisions, if necessary in the ballot.  In fact, you‘ve taken your own election, of course, course, and, of course, issues you‘re bringing up later on this year.  Why not bring the issue of marriage and what constitutes a valid marriage to the people through a constitutional amendment process?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Well, they did.  The people have voted already on that issue.  And we can take it back.  If people are not happy with that, they can put another initiative...


MATTHEWS:  Are you happy with it if they decide to say it‘s OK to have gay marriage in the state? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Absolutely.  If the people decide—I‘m the people‘s representative.  I am perfectly fine with that.  The important thing that‘s it‘s the people that vote on it.  The people have spoken before. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  If they speak again and if they have changed their mind, because, remember, things change all the time.  I think that as we go on, I think people will be feeling more comfortable with the idea of domestic partnership and also marriage.


MATTHEWS:  Are you getting more comfortable with it? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I have always been comfortable with the domestic partnership rights. 

But I have always been much more open-mined about all of those things than maybe other people have. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  But, I mean, that‘s what makes this state interesting.  We have different kinds of opinions.  And I think, in the end, if the legislators are not willing to solve those problems, I think you should give it to the people and let them make the decision.

MATTHEWS:  How did you vote on 22?  Did you vote for or against it?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  For domestic partnership. 

MATTHEWS:  But you voted against gay marriage?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I don‘t believe in gay marriage.  I believe in partnership, domestic partnership. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose the Supreme Court of this state says it is OK to have gay marriage, the same marriage kind of certificate as a heterosexual couple.  Would you move to try to change the constitution? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  No, absolutely not.  I will stay with that. 

MATTHEWS:  You would go with the courts?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Whatever the Supreme Court, whatever the Supreme Court decides, that‘s exactly what I will stay with. 

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s consistent with your philosophy, letting some judges decide, rather than letting all the people of the state decide?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Well, both, the people or the judge.  In both cases, I think the important issue here is that it should not be the power of a mayor, for instance, like Mayor Newsom in San Francisco. 

MATTHEWS:  You think he was wrong?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I thought he was overstepping the line, because I thought that this is, again, something that the legislators can do, the people can do, or the court can do, but not individual mayors cannot make up the laws that go along, because, eventually, you have some other mayor in some other town start saying, OK, I think we should hand out guns and ammunitions and we should have free this.

I think we should have—abide by the law and we should have certain rules.  

*  *  *
On fellow actors taking him on

WARREN BEATTY, ACTOR:  At long last, Mr. Terminator, do you want to terminate our decency?  Arnold, be the action hero that I know you can be. 

Be strong.  Stand up and confront the wealthiest 1 percent of Californians who have benefited $12 million—excuse me -- $12 billion each year from just the Bush tax cuts alone. 


MATTHEWS:  That was Warren Beatty taking you on.  We didn‘t show the whole clip, but he says you‘re working with Wall Street and the K Street lobbyists. 

And what do you say to Warren Beatty? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  And he said we should increase taxes, right?

MATTHEWS:  Right, for the rich.  

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I just—I love that. 

But all I can say is that, if he promises me not to give me advice in politics, I promise him not to give him advice on acting. 

*  *  *
On special vs. public interests
MATTHEWS:  Where in your philosophy do you distinguish between special interests and people operating in the public interest?  Teachers, nurses, and maybe, by extension, their unions, people would say, they‘re public interest people, because, every day, they work for the public.  They don‘t make much money.  They must be doing it for public—because of their public concerns. 

Drug companies, big businesses, these fellows are coming in to have lunch with you and they‘re kicking into your campaign.  Are they special interests?  What do they get out of it? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Let me ask you a simple question. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why aren‘t they special interests? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  No, no, but let me—let me ask you a simple question.  We have a bill, SB 1419, that says that the schools in California cannot contract out.  They have to employ public employees to do the...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Mowing the lawn, doing the fixing of the schools, the roofing.  Whatever it may be in the school, it has to be public employees. 

It cost the California school system, our education system, $300 million extra.  Do you think that‘s to the public‘s interest or is it to the unions‘ interest?  Think about that. 

MATTHEWS:  Well...

SCHWARZENEGGER:  No, it‘s very simple.  It‘s very simple. I say that that actually destroys the whole thing, because what we have to do is, we want to let the schools go and contract out to anyone who is the cheapest and the best worker. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  Why do we have to be insisting on public employees? 

MATTHEWS:  What is the—some of your critics have raised the issue that, in your campaigns to raise support for your reforms, you‘re contracting out jobs to India, those people that once worked in the boiling rooms.  How do you defend that? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Well, you know something?  Those critics should create the jobs that I‘ve created. 

And by calling a special election, which we‘re going to do very soon...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  ... we have created a whole industry in California. 

People are out there gathering signatures.

MATTHEWS:  But why would you...

SCHWARZENEGGER:  There‘s hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on television.  It stimulates our economy.  All this creates jobs.  What are they talking about contracting out to India? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are you—why are you contracting out jobs to India? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I have no problem with that.  The most important thing is that we create jobs here. 


MATTHEWS:  But that‘s because they‘re cheaper salaries, right?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  No, no.  Chris, don‘t get shortsighted here...We have got to fix—we have got to fix—we have got to fix the problem of California.  This is all diversion.  They say that I‘m trying to unplug the life support systems of old ladies.


SCHWARZENEGGER:  I‘m trying to take away the death benefits for the firefighters.  They say that I‘m trying not to keep my promise with educators.  These are the kinds of things that the special interests and the unions are saying, their campaign tactic. 


MATTHEWS:  What we‘re trying to do here is find out what‘s true.  Are you contracting out jobs to India? 


MATTHEWS:  As part of this campaign?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I have nothing to do with that.  You‘re talking about...

MATTHEWS:  Well, the people helping you.

SCHWARZENEGGER:  No, no, but you‘re talking about probably the organizations that are putting the ballots out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Sure.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I‘m not controlling them.  I have nothing to do with that. 

You see, we have a law that says I cannot have control over those entities. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  They are putting the initiatives out there. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  Some of them, I will support and some of them I will endorse and I will be doing fund-raising for and all those things.  But I don‘t do employ people...

MATTHEWS: OK.  I have one problem.  Why are nurses not—why are nurses special interests and drug companies are not?  Aren‘t drug companies special interests? 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  Chris, Chris, Chris, not nurses, nurses union.  Get it straight.  It is not the nurses.  It is the unions that I‘m against. 

Now, let me ask you a question.

MATTHEWS:  Do you know what we have outside here.  We have nurses outside here, real live nurses. 

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I understand, but let me just explain to you. 

Anyone that is putting a wedge between a legislator or a politician, that is supposed to make decisions on behalf of the people, and the people is a special interest.  If it is a union or if it is a drug company, it makes no difference.  All of them are special interests, because they‘re looking out for themselves. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  The important thing is that the unions and special interests are putting five -- $200 million against me this year.  They‘re trying to take me out so that there is no change and there is no reform. 

So, what I am doing is, I‘m raising money out there so that we can put the television spots and the radio spots and communicate with the people, so we can confront them, because they are spending much more money than we ever can raise.  So, no one is talking about them, how much money that they are spending to take us out. 

We will create the reform.  We will raise the money and we are going to be victorious in the end.  This will be the year of reform for California.