Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses his new book the "Total Recall:… (Kris Connor / Getty Images )
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday he doesn’t think the scandal over his affair with a family housekeeper has cost him credibility as a high-profile political voice in the nation.
“I don’t think so, but let me tell you, if the people are angry at me, I deserve that,” Schwarzenegger said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There was a major screw-up. … I’ve hurt my wife. I’ve hurt the kids. I think they went through a lot of pain because of that and I take the responsibility.”
Schwarzenegger has been doing TV interviews to promote his new autobiography, “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.”
As governor, he was a frequent guest on “Meet the Press” and rose to be a major moderate voice within the Republican Party. He received a prime speaking spot at the 2004 GOP convention, in which he made a strong case for the reelection of President George W. Bush.
On Sunday, he said the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney was “wide open.” He reiterated that he has no intention of running for public office again. But Schwarzenegger chided Republicans and Democrats for not working together to tackle important issues, such as immigration reform.
“You’ve got to get the people’s work done,” he said, criticizing politicians for worrying more about getting reelected. “It takes a little bit more ... to run this job and to do this kind of a profession.... That’s what we need – political courage to go in there and to fix the problems.
“There’s five or six major problems that we have in the United States and they need to be fixed and they should stop … pointing fingers at each other because that is not going to build any roads and that’s not going to make our air clean,” said the former governor, who is continuing his political involvement by establishing the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.
But on the heels of his tumultuous seven-year tenure in Sacramento, Schwarzenegger’s image took a severe blow in early 2011 when it was revealed he fathered a child with his family’s housekeeper. The news ended his longtime marriage with Maria Shriver, with whom he has four children.
Schwarzenegger said Sunday he still believed he was a man of good character.
“I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and that’s what my book is about,” he said. “It’s not just about the victories and about the great things I’ve accomplished.”
But “Meet the Press” host David Gregory tweaked him about an incident of questionable character that took place on NBC’s “Today” show during the California recall election in 2003.
While doing a remote interview, Schwarzenegger said he couldn’t hear a question about whether he would make his tax returns available to the press.
“Now governor you actually heard just fine, didn’t you, at that particular moment?” a smiling Gregory told him.
“Not that I remember,” Schwarzenegger deadpanned Sunday.
Gregory then quoted a passage from Schwarzenegger’s book in which the former governor said he realized he was unprepared and pretended there was a problem. He wrote that “it was my lamest performance ever.”
Schwarzenegger told Gregory that Shriver, a former journalist at NBC, “was really mad about it.”
She called him and told him, “You’ve got to go and start thinking about what you’re going to say when you do those interviews,” Schwarzenegger said.
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