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Like Barack Obama, Gov. Schwarzenegger offers small town "insight"

May 2, 2008 |  9:39 pm

Small-town folks just aren't getting much respect these days from some big-time politicians.

Indeed, the phenomenon has become bipartisan -- add California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, to the list that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama started when he famously opined that those living in lesser populated areas often "cling" to guns, God and other matters out of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during a conference in Beverly Hills sponsored by financier Michael Milken mades remarks some saw as belittling of small town residents bitterness over their economic plight.

Obama made his comments at a private event in San Francisco; Schwarzenegger was less discreet, holding forth during an appearance Wednesday at a conference in Beverly Hills (a gathering hosted by billionaire Michael Milken, whose post-prison endeavors include running an economic think tank).

As detailed by the Sacramento Bee, Schwarzenegger was reflecting on how international travel broadens one's horizons. To drive his point home, he said:

"I always encourage the legislators in Sacramento (to take foreign trips), because some of them come from those little towns. You know what I'm saying? They come from those little towns and they don't have that vision yet of an airport.

"Or of a highway that maybe has 10 lanes or of putting a highway on top of a highway. They look at you and they say, 'Well, we don't have that in my town. What are you talking about?' So they are kind of shocked when you say certain things."

The Bee story reported that his comments sparked laughter and applause from his cosmopolitan crowd.

It also ...

provoked a rebuke from a lawmaker contacted by the newspaper, state Sen. Dean Florez of the small Central Valley community of Shafter.

Asked Florez (tongue firmly planted in cheek, we presume), "Does the governor think that I just normally fly up on 'crop dusters' to Sacramento field by field?"

And as word spread of Schwarzenegger's remarks, they spurred an indignant e-mail sent to the media by Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute (a Sacramento-based group that, according to its website, serves as "watchdog for family values.")

"Most Californians are from small towns, and those citizens are hard working Americans with traditional values," England wrote. "For the governor of California to ridicule legislators, and their constituents, is disgusting."

She added: "These unbelievable comments are further proof that Arnold Schwarzenegger is completely out of touch with our state and is an elitist."

Perhaps he'll want to consult Obama on damage control (his wife, Maria Shriver, can put the two together).

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Bloomberg News