Arnold Schwarzenegger steers clear of contentious
issues at San Jose Republican Party Convention
By Anna Molin, Bay City News Service
February 25, 2006
SAN JOSE (BCN) -- A standing ovation greeted Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger as he came to deliver his keynote speech last night
at the California Republican Party's convention in San Jose.
The governor steered away from contentious issues that have polarized
party members in the past and focused on building support among
his Republican base.
"We Republicans have a history of boldness,'' Schwarzenegger
"Abraham Lincoln struck down slavery. Teddy Roosevelt fathered
the environmental movement. Dwight D. Eisenhower built the interstate
highway system. And Ronald Reagan tore down the wall and defeated
Communism. This is a time in California's history that calls for
The governor touched on his $222 billion plan to restructure
roadways, schools, levees and ports without mentioning the $68
billion in general obligation bonds the 10-year plan calls for
to pay for the improvements.
"He made a decision to avoid going into the details,'' said
Joe Fleischman, who was in attendance tonight. "I think he
had an opportunity to hit a home run and I say he hit a double.''
Most Republicans seemed eager to back their candidate, booing
vigorously at the mention of the Democratic alternatives for governor.
"We got a choice and we can move the state forward or we
will go backwards,'' said state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria,
a candidate for controller.
"I mean look at what our choices are,'' he said of Schwarzenegger's
competition for the state's top job.
The governor noted briefly that although all Republicans may
not agree on some issues, they have the same core values at heart.
"We have a record we can be proud of, a record we can run
on, and a record we can win on,'' he said. "Are things perfect?
Of course not ... we still need to put the pressure on our federal
government with the job of securing our borders. We need to secure
our economic growth and we need to pass Jessica's Law.''
Schwarzenegger's speech comes at an important juncture in his
bid for re-election in November. The governor must revitalize
his Republican base, which tends to favor his economic policies
of fiscal responsibility but disagrees with his more moderate
stands on social issues.
At the same time, he needs to win back the trust of Democrats
and Independents, who showed their disapproval of his recent policies
by rejecting all of his propositions in the November 2005 special
One issue that appears to have struck a chord with both liberals
and conservatives is the need for revitalizing the state's declining
Schwarzenegger said of California residents, "They are tired
of sitting on gridlocked roadways. They are tired of their kids
trying to learn in overcrowded classrooms and, after Katrina,
they are rightly worried that they are one huge storm or one big
earthquake away from a major Katrina-type disaster.''
Just yesterday, the governor proclaimed a state of emergency
for California's levee system, directing all state government
agencies to utilize their personnel and resources to alleviate
the threat of catastrophic levee failure following a high-magnitude
earthquake in the Sacramento Delta region.
However, the governor did not mention yesterday's proclamation
in his speech tonight, nor did he touch on the contentious issue
of raising the state's minimum wage, which he has pledged to do.
A group of Republican college students staged a half-hour protest
outside the hotel this afternoon to oppose the minimum wage increase.
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