Arnold pans divisiveness in D.C.

first_imgWASHINGTON – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to President George W. Bush: Get a smoking tent. A lair like the one he has rigged in the courtyard outside his office in Sacramento – where lawmakers from both parties can go to “smoke a stogie” and “schmooze” – he said, could be the first step toward finally creating bipartisan cooperation in Washington. “Dividing people does not work, but division is what Washington represents. For too long this town has been about divide and conquer,” Schwarzenegger chided Monday in a speech at the National Press Club. “You can’t catch a socially transmitted disease by sitting down with people who have ideas different than yours.” Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said that as a Democrat in a Republican state, she understands Schwarzenegger’s motivation and praised his call for reform. “In states where our voters’ registration is of the opposite party, it forces you to really think through what your position is and think respectfully about what the other side’s position is,” Napolitano said. Back at home, however, Republicans are increasingly irritated by the bipartisanship spiel, said Tony Quinn, GOP analyst and co-editor of the California Target Book. “The governor has bad relations with his own party,” Quinn said. “They don’t think he’s been nonpartisan. They think he’s been too close to the Democrats. “There isn’t really any bipartisanship in Sacramento. There’s Schwarzenegger’s brand of Republicanism,” he said. Also Monday, Schwarzenegger outlined his health care plan for Bush and stressed the need for the federal government’s help. “If our state is successful, then other states will follow,” he said. Schwarzenegger also signed an agreement with the governors of New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon and Washington to develop a regional target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to meet today with a host of Democrats, including California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He also is scheduled to meet with the entire California congressional delegation on health care and other issues. “We’re hopeful that we’re really going to get a meaty, issue-filled, bipartisan meeting,” said Kyra Jennings, spokeswoman for Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who has complained in the past that delegation meetings with Schwarzenegger were simply glorified photo-ops. As for this year, Jennings said, “This is the beginning of the journey. This is the first time Democrats are in the majority, so it’s a whole different ball game.” [email protected] (202) 662-8731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In town for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Schwarzenegger’s speech was his first major address in Washington, D.C. Coming as Schwarzenegger bounces back from a dismal 30 percent approval rating and reaps praise for working across party lines on health care and climate change, Schwarzenegger suggested federal officials would do well to follow his lead. “I don’t claim to be Gandhi or anything like that, because I contributed in 2005 to polarization myself. It was too much about us versus them and it was a terrible mistake.” He urged Congress to pass immigration reform that includes a guest-worker program and grants citizenship to illegal immigrants, calling it a “totally reasonable, centrist approach.” He also reminded Republicans that his universal health care proposal includes coverage for the children of illegal immigrants. At the same time, he called on Democrats to “stop running the president down” and chided them for the non-binding resolution that passed the House opposing Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. last_img

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