SACRAMENTO-While tensions are rising between President Obama and Congressional Republicans, California’s Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is eager for more opportunities to partner with Obama on big issues like health care and energy. He’s also got some advice for the new president about building inclusive “post-partisan” coalitions.
Schwarzenegger is positioned to become perhaps Obama’s most important Republican ally.
He was among the most prominent GOP governors who backed the economic recovery plan that cleared Congress with support from no Republicans in the House and just three in the Senate. And Schwarzenegger has advanced his own state-level initiatives on health reform, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting alternative energy that closely track Obama’s campaign proposals.
“Whether it is health care, whether it is environmental issues, we are willing to work with him,” Schwarzenegger said in an interview Tuesday as he lustily puffed on a cigar in his smoking tent inside the State Capitol. “We started with infrastructure because that was a very important part of the whole thing and we felt it was really good that he was interested in infrastructure and put money aside as part of the stimulus.”
Though leading Congressional Republicans have grown steadily more dismissive of Obama’s stimulus package, Schwarzenegger continues to defend the plan, particularly the elements promoting energy conservation and renewable energy. “There is good stuff in there,” he said.
“Some of my Republican colleagues are questioning how does it create jobs when you green government buildings. Well let me tell you, you don’t green government buildings by just looking at it; you have to put a lot of people to work to green all those buildings. And you have to buy a lot of technology and you create a lot of jobs if you go and say all government buildings [must be retrofitted] That is all in the right direction.”
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