The Governator on Immigration, the Environment, & 2008
Guest blogger Ed O'Keefe offers this item from the Hispanic journalists conference in San Jose, Calif.:
SAN JOSE, CALIF. -- Donning a grey suit, green tie, and matching green snakeskin boots, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) Wednesday night criticized Washington's actions on global warming, suggesting "the federal government is asleep" on the issue of global climate change. The governor also said he has questions about the now-tabled Senate immigration reform package, but says it's important to come to an agreement on the issue this year.
Schwarzenegger held a wide-ranging Q&A session at the opening of this year's National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) conference, affording him an audience with journalists and media types from across the country. He touched a nerve among some in the crowd by suggesting recent Latin American immigrants struggling to learn English "have got to turn off the Spanish television set," and should instead make use of English-language newspapers, television and radio to learn English, as he did.
On the same day California officials said they intend to move ahead with plans to take the Environmental Protection Agency to court in order to get tougher federal anti-pollution standards, Schwarzenegger said the federal government is acting too slowly on global climate change, putting Americans, and the world, at risk.
"We know we have global warming. We know already we?re in danger," he said. "Let's act now."
As for the fight over immigration, Schwarzenegger pointed out that "there are Republicans not voting for this bill right now, and there are Democrats not voting for this bill right now," and that moderate lawmakers should work together to bring lawmakers on the right and left together on the issue. When asked if he would sign the current immigration deal, Schwarzenegger said he would not.
"I have a lot of questions," about the current proposals, he said, especially related to costs and enforcement. But he added, "We're literally five minutes to midnight on the issue," and urged lawmakers to cut a deal this year.
The governor met with NAHJ members amid tough negotiations with state legislators over the state budget, due by July 1. Asked what advice he could give to Washington lawmakers suffering from historically low poll numbers, Schwarzenegger admitted he'd gone in the "wrong direction" when he started as governor by "being confrontational." He said California lawmakers have to do what's best for California, and that bipartisanship is key to the state?s success.
"As soon as you exclude one party, you?re excluding 50 percent of the talent pool," he said.
The governor reiterated he will continue to fight for state political reforms, including overhauling the state?s congressional redistricting process, imposing term limits on state officials, and campaign finance reform. He specifically cited his hope that state political fundraising activities will one day be banned during the state budget negotiation season.
Some have speculated Schwarzenegger may seek another political office in the future, perhaps running against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2010.
But the governor said he'll instead continue to serve by working on public health issues, and through programs like the Special Olympics, adding, "I'm not that eager to run for another office."
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