CNN Encourages Republicans to Mimic Liberal Schwarzenegger

For the third time since the 2006 midterm elections, CNN’s "Situation Room" has highlighted liberal Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a role model for the national GOP. On the Monday edition of the cable program, reporter Jeff Greenfield discussed the California leader’s visit to Washington to give a speech and he also described Schwarzenegger’s "centrism." Additionally, Greenfield highlighted the former movie star's liberal initiatives:

Jeff Greenfield: " In 2005, frustrated by a Democratic legislature, Schwarzenegger went to war, promoting ballot measures to curb the power of unions, to cap the budget, to change redistricting. All of those measures went down to defeat."

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I just made terrible mistakes."

Greenfield: "So, in a remarkable 180 degree turn, Schwarzenegger began cutting deals with the legislature on education spending, on expanding health care to all children, on dealing with the budget deficit and roads through bond measures, that’s borrowing. He’s joined Senator John McCain, embracing a massive effort to cut greenhouse gasses, something the conservative GOP base is not exactly crazy about. And he’s even defended the Republicans’ public enemy number one, Hillary Clinton, over her Iraq War vote."

Greenfield then featured a clip of Schwarzenegger, in full centrist mode, (as the media defines it) defending 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He did offer a slight criticism, noting that some Republicans think the former movie star’s "centrism" is an abandonment of core conservatism. However, Greenfield made up for this by suggesting that if the Constitution didn’t forbid it, Schwarzenegger could be a formidable presidential candidate:

Schwarzenegger: "Every human being makes mistakes and that’s why they understand when a politician says, ‘You know, I made mistake.’ It’s that simple. Now, with Hillary Clinton, I think that people should, when it comes to the war, should elevate this whole discussion and really not, you know, pick on, on things like that, but, really, try to get along in Washington."

Greenfield: "He finished his speech in Washington by reminding his audience of the smoking tent he erected in Sacramento outside his office where legislators could come to smoke a stogie and shmooze, in his words. And his advice to President Bush?."

Schwarzenegger: "Get yourself a smoking tent."

Greenfield: Now, there are Republicans who argue that Schwarzenegger’s centrism is really an abandonment of core conservative principles. But when you realize that he won a 17 point reelection in the nation’s biggest state, in a big Democrat year, you might understand why folks like John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney might think that their favorite part of the U.S. Constitution is the one that says no foreign born citizen can run for president. Wolf?"

This is not the first time that CNN has urged Republicans to embrace Schwarzanegger’s liberalism. On November 9, just days after the 2006 midterm elections, correspondent Bill Schneider suggested that the GOP should learn the lesson of California and move left:

Bill Schneider: "Will Republicans move further to the right? Not if they got the message of the election. Republicans lost because they abandoned the center. Independents voted Democratic by the biggest margin ever recorded. The election also provides an alternative model of a Republican who moved to the center and thrived."

Schwarzenegger: "We fight our causes but, in the end, we find common grounds. This is the California way. The voters have endorsed it. I embrace it."

Less than two weeks later, on November 20, Schneider was at it again. This time he called for the GOP to abandon the "lame duck" Bush and follow, you guessed it, Schwarzenegger’s brand of Republicanism:

Schneider: "Well, you know, unlike most Republicans, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did very well this year and his success carries a message for his fellow Republicans. What do Republicans do now? To paraphrase some famous advice: ‘Go west old party,' and follow the example of one Republican who had a very good year. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an actor. In three years as governor, he has played three different roles. Call it the three faces of Arnold. He started out as a moderate in 2004, campaigning side-by-side with Democrats to rescue the state budget."

As long as Arnold Schwarzenegger embraces liberal positions, look for CNN to continue touting him as the model for GOP success.

A transcript of the February 26 segment, which aired at 4:30pm, follows:

CNN Graphic: "Arnold’s Message: Can’t They All Get Along?"

Wolf Blitzer: "His state is blue; his party pairs with red, but Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks in shades of purple and today the California governor pushed for more of the nation’s leaders to do the same thing. Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield is in New York. He’s standing by live to explain what’s going on. Hi, Jeff."

Jeff Greenfield: "Hi, Wolf. Well, Governor Schwarzenegger was in Washington today and he brought a message that demonstrates why he’s one of the most remarkable and successful figures around. The message of this highly successful politician? Stop playing politics. But it’s a message that resonates because the ‘Govenator’ has delivered on it, and followed it, once and again. Schwarzenegger’s message was a lament. A lament that Washington was in the grip of partisan gridlock."

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "For too long this town has been about divide and conquer. Find an issue that splits our country in half and then crack it just enough so you can come out ahead. It doesn’t look like anything has changed here in Washington. The same things are happening all over again."

Greenfield: "What makes the words resonate is that the Governor himself is something of a born-again centrist. In 2003, after winning a recall election, he sounded strong bipartisan themes."

Schwarzenegger: "I have appointed to my cabinet Republicans, Democrats and independents, because I want the people to know that my administration is not about politics, it is about saving California."

Greenfield: " In 2005, frustrated by a Democratic legislature, Schwarzenegger went to war, promoting ballot measures to curb the power of unions, to cap the budget, to change redistricting. All of those measures went down to defeat."

Schwarzenegger: "I just made terrible mistakes."

Greenfield: "So, in a remarkable 180 degree turn, Schwarzenegger began cutting deals with the legislature on education spending, on expanding health care to all children, on dealing with the budget deficit and roads through bond measures, that’s borrowing. He’s joined Senator John McCain, embracing a massive effort to cut greenhouse gasses, something the conservative GOP base is not exactly crazy about. And he’s even defended the Republican’s public enemy number one, Hillary Clinton, over her Iraq War vote."

Schwarzenegger: "Every human being makes mistakes and that’s why they understand when a politician says, ‘You know, I made mistake.’ It’s that simple. Now, with Hillary Clinton, I think that people should, when it comes to the war, should elevate this whole discussion and really not, you know, pick on, on things like that, but, really, try to get along in Washington."

Greenfield: "He finished his speech in Washington by reminding his audience of the smoking tent he erected in Sacramento outside his office where legislators could come to smoke a stogie and shmooze, in his words. And his advice to President Bush?."

Schwarzenegger: "Get yourself a smoking tent."

Greenfield: Now, there are Republicans who argue that Schwarzenegger’s centrism is really an abandonment of core conservative principles. But when you realize that he won a 17 point reelection in the nation’s biggest state, in a big Democrat year, you might understand why folks like John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney might think that their favorite part of the U.S. Constitution is the one that says no foreign born citizen can run for president. Wolf?"

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org