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Arnold Schwarzenegger

One in a series of occasional stories on the candidates.

August 12, 2003|Doug Smith | Times Staff Writer

Since Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the race for governor last week, people have been trying to gauge his positions on issues facing the state.

The Austrian-born movie action hero has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans for not offering specific policies. On morning TV news shows Friday, Schwarzenegger at times appeared to dodge questions.

A review of interviews with Schwarzenegger over the last decade show that he has staked clear positions on some issues but managed to avoid taking stands on others. The review also finds that some of the stands the media has long attributed to him are not as clear as they seem.

His ability to deflect tough questions shone when Talk magazine interviewer Max Vadukul asked him if he and his wife, Maria Shriver, scion of the Democratic Kennedy dynasty, talked politics at home.

"Not since I've been sleeping in the garage," he quipped, nipping the interviewer's attempt to shift gears.


Drug Use and Smoking

In interviews, Schwarzenegger has revealed more about his own drug use than what he thinks about the debate over decriminalizing pot or the high percentage of drug cases bogging down the courts.

The subject that made presidential candidate Bill Clinton squirm is already out of the way for Schwarzenegger.

"What it is, is what it is," he told Talk magazine in a 1999 interview. "I inhaled, exhaled, everything."

He has also admitted taking steroids as part of his bodybuilding regime, though he has not said how often he used the drugs.

"You'd do it for three months, once a year before contests," he said. "If you take 15 milligrams of let's say, anabolic steroids for three months, it's one thing. But if you take 200 milligrams a day for a whole year, that's something else."

Schwarzenegger said his drug use ended in the early 1970s, when information became available about the harmful effects of steroids.

He said he still enjoys a cigar. His criticism of New York City's ban on smoking in public places illustrates what one commentator has called Schwarzenegger's pragmatic libertarian tendencies.

"I would have some restaurants that are smoking restaurants and some nonsmoking, so there is a choice," he told the New York Post. "Now there is no choice, so I think it's a little overboard."

Social Programs

As an avowed devotee of economist Milton Friedman, Schwarzenegger presents himself as a fiscal conservative.

"I am more comfortable with an Adam Smith philosophy than with Keynesian theory," he told the Financial Times of London.

"I still believe in lower taxes -- and the power of the free market," the Sacramento Bee reported him as saying.

"I still believe in controlling government spending. If it's a bad program, let's get rid of it," Schwarzenegger said.

At the same time, Schwarzenegger extols the work of government and suggests he sees a need for far greater spending.

"We want to make sure that our children have the books, that they have their place in the classroom," he said on CNN last week. " ... We want to make sure the mothers have affordable day care. We want to make sure the older folks have their care that they need. That everything has to be provided for the people."

Schwarzenegger has promised a detailed plan of how he would make that happen.

But for the present, all he has said is that he would bring business back to California because business would increase tax revenue and, "when you have more revenue, you can have more programs that I think are very important."

Abortion and Gay Marriage

Appearing on Fox TV's "The O'Reilly Factor" in May 2001, Schwarzenegger made a strong defense of abortion rights.

"I disagree with George Bush about that," he said. "I'm for choice. The women should have the choice. The women should decide what they want to do with their bodies. I'm all for that."

With Schwarzenegger in the race, his campaign co-chairman, Pete Wilson, offered a more nuanced position in a Fox News report with Brit Hume on Friday.

"He probably feels, much as I do, he's not pro-abortion," Wilson said. "He's pro-choice. And there's a real difference."

He has also been outspoken on gay rights.

"I have no sexual standards in my head that say 'this is good' or 'this is bad,' " he told Cosmopolitan in a frequently quoted interview. " 'Homosexual' -- that only means to me that he enjoys sex with a man and I enjoy sex with a woman. It's all legitimate to me."

Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that his views on social mores diverge from mainstream Republican values.

He said he hopes to lead his party in a more tolerant direction.

"You're going to lose until you become a party of inclusion, that you love the foreigner that comes in with no money as much as a gay person, as a lesbian person, as anyone else -- someone that is uneducated, someone who's from the inner city," he told Talk magazine.

Gun Control, Media Violence

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