Speaking with The Los Angeles Times this week, the former Terminator star, who himself became governor of the Golden State through a recall election in 2003, said California “made the right decision” to stick with Newsom, characterizing Larry Elder as a “wacky” candidate.
“I think voters made the right decision,” Schwarzenegger said. “It's better to stay with someone who you know what they're going to do, rather than someone who comes in wacky and is changing everything around.”
Only 36.2 percent of California voters said “Yes” to the recall this past Tuesday as Gavin Newsom retained his job in a landslide with 63.8 percent voting “No.” Schwarzenegger said Republicans would have done a better job running on certain issues that matter to Californians, such as the environment, ignoring the fact that Gavin Newsom has been severely criticized for his wildfire prevention efforts.
“The voters want to protect the environment,” he said. “We have the strictest environmental laws in California, and we have proven to the world that you can have strictest environmental laws and at same time be the most successful economy.”
Despite Schwarzenegger's assertions, the environment was not the top concern for Californians. According to several exit polls, voters put the coronavirus as their number one issue with the state's homeless crisis as number two.
“The Covid-19 pandemic remains at the top of voters' minds, with about one-third saying it's the biggest issue for the state,” according to an exit poll from Edison Research conducted for CNN. Behind the pandemic, California voters cited homelessness and crime as their second and third concerns:
That's followed by just over one-fifth saying homelessness, 1 in 6 saying the economy and wildfires, respectively, and slightly under one-tenth saying crime. Concerns vary across partisan lines: more than 4 in 10 Democrats call coronavirus their top issue, while only about one-fifth of Republicans say the same. On the flip side, Republicans are more than three times as likely as Democrats to name the economy as their top concern.
Regarding Gov. Gavin Newsom's mitigation efforts to combat the coronavirus, an NBC News exit poll found that “voters likely sided with Newsom on the public health measures, with a plurality, or 45 percent, saying Newsom's Covid policies are right, compared to 32 percent who said the measures are too strict. Another 17 percent said they aren't strict enough.”
Referring to the California GOP as “disastrous,” Schwarzenegger hailed Newsom for making the necessary adjustments in order to stay ahead of his opponent, Larry Elder.
“I think he woke up and made adjustments, talking issues and all that stuff. And he was very fortunate he had Elder as the leading candidate on the other side,” he said.
That being said, Schwarzenegger understood why the recall election took place, noting that voters are unsatisfied with the current situation.
“People were clearly dissatisfied with the governor, with Sacramento,” he said. “You cannot put everything just on Newsom; people felt we have not really moved forward as a state in a way that was promised so they were angry. There's no difference than there was under Gray Davis.”
Schwarzenegger sparked scores of criticism last month when he said “screw your freedom” to people that refuse to wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Screw your freedom,” Schwarzenegger said before going so far as to liken mask mandates to traffic laws. “You cannot say, ‘No one is going to tell me that I'm going to stop here, that I have to stop at this traffic light here. I'm going to go right through it.' Then you kill someone else, and then it is your doing.”