Doug Gamble- Contributor
is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides
A lot's at stake for California on Wednesday...
[Doug Gamble] 9/23/03
is at stake in Wednesday night’s “Super Bowl” gubernatorial
debate in Sacramento, not only for Arnold Schwarzenegger but
also for California, when he finally deigns to appear on the
same stage as those he apparently considers the peons of politics.
Schwarzenegger it is his best opportunity to demonstrate the
his critics charge is lacking. I’ve
read the questions that have been submitted to the candidates
in advance, and as best as I can determine neither, “Hasta
la vista, baby” nor “I’ll be back” are
the answers to any of them.
participants will be expected, for example, to state specifically
should be implemented to balance the budget and how
a revenue shortfall caused by any repeal of the tripling of
the car tax should be made up. If Schwarzenegger gets into
specifics on these and other matters, as he’ll be pressed
to do, voters will learn more about him and his political reasoning
than they’ve known up until now.
we do know is that he’s an intelligent man, as his
business achievements show, a determined person, demonstrated
by his unlikely but successful movie career and a shrewd promoter,
as evidenced by the surprise announcement of his candidacy on
the “Tonight Show” that created far more buzz and
excitement than a prepared statement to a gaggle of reporters
at a press conference would have. But voters considering who
should be governor need more than that. His challenge will be
to show enough grasp of the issues – not total, but enough – to
satisfy those Republicans who are still wavering as well as Democrats
susceptible of crossing over and voting Republican.
opponents on the debate platform are known quantities by now,
but he is not. If his is more than
a celebrity-driven, paint-by-numbers campaign, this debate will
be his chance to prove it. But I disagree with those who say
that by comparing Wednesday’s debate to a Super Bowl, Schwarzenegger
has set the bar so high that he will have to pull off an extraordinary
performance. I don’t think it’s necessary for him
to hit the proverbial home run, just do well enough for those
voters still up for grabs to say, “Yes, I’d feel
comfortable with him as governor.”
first poll after the debate will shed a lot of light on the
of a Schwarzenegger governorship. If his numbers
stay about where they are now, and assuming Tom McClintock
remains further back, it will be good news for Cruz Bustamante.
I suspect Schwarzenegger will either have to gain ground this
week or he won’t gain any more between now and Oct. 7.
a broader scale, the debate may well have an effect on what
the recall, now close enough that it could go either
way. An unimpressive performance by all would obviously enhance
the chances of Gov. Gray Davis to survive, but it’s more
complicated than that. A boffo showing by Schwarzenegger could
either inspire more Democrats to go to the polls to keep the
governor’s office out of Republican hands or, because
he’s a moderate Republican, could draw disaffected Democrats
to his side. Who does what and for what reason will make for
very interesting reading when the entrails of the election’s
exit polls are examined.
described Wednesday night’s debate as the Super
Bowl, Schwarzenegger now has to hope he turns out to be the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers and not the Oakland Raiders.
aside: I had the honor of writing for Pete Wilson in many of
teamed up with the late Otto Bos, a top Wilson
aide, and I hold Pete in high regard. Tom McClintock’s
remark that Pete Wilson was one of the worst governors in California
history went way too far over the line. Pete faced some of
the toughest challenges of any governor in California history
during his first term, and ended up leaving the state with
a multi-billion dollar surplus. I’m disappointed at the
severity of Tom’s attack on a fellow Republican who served
his constituents well as an assemblyman, mayor, U.S. senator
has written for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
and other prominent Republicans.
Copyright 2003 Doug Gamble