How the GOP Will Spin the Recall


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Whatever the outcome of today’s California-recall vote, the fallout from the Davis-Schwarzenegger match-up is likely to continue well into next year’s prediential election. If Arnold wins, Dems can be counted on to make a try for his recall, based probably on accusations of sexual misconduct revealed during the last days of the campaign. Davis himself has been muttering about a criminal investigation of some sort.

It’s the Republicans, however, who will have the field day. If Davis stays in the governor’s mansion, Bush can accuse Dems of mismanaging the state, even though it was Bush cronies—Texas energy producers, namely Enron—who brought the state to its knees by manipulating energy prices. While, you might note, Bush stood by and admonished Californians to solve their own problems.

If Davis has to leave, GOP candidates will no doubt ridicule photos of Dem surrogates, including the dwarf candidate contingent, beating the drum for Davis. Clinton may slip by, but the others are going to look pretty silly, standing there with Davis, the big loser, having their pictures taken.

Observers think Schwarzenegger will do poorly with women voters because of the alleged sexual indiscretions. But stories about pinching women’s asses may boost his vote, aiding Arnold’s campaign drive to get the votes of young men, who are voting in record numbers. “The Schwarzenegger campaign always knew female support would be soft and sought to maximize male support to make up for it, an acceptable risk when less than 40 percent is needed to win,” writes Craig Crawford in CQ. “His aides ran a high-testosterone campaign based on his macho movie lines, heavy-metal music (the Twisted Sister anthem ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’) and wrecking balls dropped on cars.”

The long-range implications of a Schwarzenegger win could cause discomfort among Bush’s right-wing followers. Schwarzenegger isn’t exactly the stuff of the Christian right. He pumps up the Catholics. But it’s hard to imagine him standing shoulder to shoulder with Pat Robertson.

Arnold is more like a traditional eastern style liberal Republican: pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-environment. He is more or less sane on immigration. It’s hard to
believe he is seriously anti-Semitic, despite the inference of the Hitler stories. And like the New England Bushes before they went crackers in Texas, he’s a fiscal conservative.

If Schwarzenegger wins, the big battleground states of Texas, New York, Florida, and California will be in Republican hands. The Dems’ best hope is that by dropping out of the Presidential race, Bob Graham can now go head-to-head with Jeb Bush and put Florida in the Dem column next year.