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Schwarzenegger says politicians need more guts on immigration

October 7, 2012 | 11:55 am

SchwarzeneggerCapitolWhile Arnold Schwarzenegger has strenuously avoided taking sides in the presidential campaign, the former Republican governor of California offered sharp criticism Sunday of politicians, including those in his own party, who have failed to tackle immigration reform.

"You’re a political leader and you come to Capitol Hill. You can’t be scared of things and then hope that you get reelected and that becomes your No. 1 interest," he said. "I mean, it takes a little bit more ... to run this job and to do this kind of a profession." More what? Think male anatomy.

The comments came during an interview with NBC News' David Gregory on "Meet the Press," where Schwarzenegger also discussed his notorious affair with a maid, which produced a son and led to his divorce from Maria Shriver.

It's not the first time Schwarzenegger has used anatomy to make a political point.

In 2009, he sent state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) a metal sculpture of bull testicles, complete with a note suggesting the lawmaker would need them to make some tough budget choices.

These days, Schwarzenegger is preaching bipartisanship, saying that he had learned first-hand the perils of political polarization. He cited the special election he called in 2005 to advance a series of conservative ballot measures. California voters rejected all of them.

"I thought I could go off by myself and it’s my way or the highway just with the Republican Party," he said. "It failed miserably. So I learned first-hand that the only action is when both parties come together."

On immigration, Schwarzenegger called on both parties to revive the plan put forth by Sens. John McCain and Edward M. Kennedy (who died in 2009), which included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. "What do we do with the people who are here now?" Schwarzenegger asked. Politicians "have not yet gotten into it because they’re scared."

Asked if he would run for political office again, Schwarzenegger said he was focused on working at the think tank he started at USC and repairing the damage his affair inflicted on his family.

"You never say never, but I don’t see that in front of me," he said of another political campaign.


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--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento


Photo: Then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA