Los Angeles, Aug. 27: Clint Eastwood warned his fellow Hollywood action-hero Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday to be “careful what you wish for” in his attempt to become the next Republican governor of California.
“When all the excitement dies down, he may decide this is a horrible time to be governor of California — huge deficits, the Senate and Assembly dominated by Democrats. It’s a very tough time to take over,” said Eastwood. His words came as Schwarzenegger’s campaign entered a tricky phase with his main Democratic rival, Cruz Bustamante, the state’s lieutenant governor, moving ahead of him in at least one poll in the recall election.
Schwarzenegger is trying to persuade Republican rivals to drop out. Stuart Spencer, who helped to launch Ronald Reagan’s political career, said the Democrats would win unless Republicans joined behind a single candidate.
While Eastwood has never made a film with Schwarzenegger, their careers have been similar, even down to their moderate Republican views.
Like the current candidate, Eastwood waited until the last minute before announcing his intention to run for mayor of Carmel in 1986, giving no interviews to the national press.
Eastwood was 55 when he beat the incumbent Charlotte Townsend with 2,166 votes to 799, after his Dirty Harry film catchphrase “Make my day” was put to good use on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
Schwarzenegger, 56, recalled: “I said to myself: ‘There is Clint Eastwood up there, Charles Bronson and Warren Beatty, so why not me, too' It seems pretty empty, so what the hell' There is room for one more’.”
Appearing on radio talk shows a day after a Los Angeles Times poll showed him trailing Bustamante by more than 10 points, Schwarzenegger sought to link the career politician to Davis — one of the most unpopular statewide leaders in California history.
“People just have to understand that when you think of Gray Davis you have to think at the same time of Bustamante,” Schwarzenegger told San Diego-based radio host Roger Hedgecock on KOGO 600 AM. “It’s like one newspaper pointed out: Bustamante is Gray Davis with a receding hairline and a mustache.”
The comments were the most direct criticisms Schwarzenegger has lobbed so far in the campaign, and they suggest that he now considers Bustamante his major obstacle to the governor’s mansion. Bustamante on Monday picked up his second key endorsement in less than a week when Democrats in the state senate backed his candidacy should the recall against Davis succeed.