Hear me now and believe me later

Schwarzenegger's flip-flop-flip on Bush.

Published May 3, 2007 4:38PM (EDT)

As the Republican presidential candidates prepare for a debate tonight in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is warning them against explicitly distancing themselves from George W. Bush. "I would not do it," Schwarzenegger tells the New York Times. "I think it's much better to say, 'Here's what I believe, here's what I would do.'"

So how did Schwarzenegger handle the question of Bush during his own reelection bid last year? Well, in an appearance on "The Tonight Show" in October 2006, he told Jay Leno: "To link me to George Bush is like linking me to an Oscar. That's ridiculous."

Only it wasn't so ridiculous: Although Schwarzenegger denied the linkage in 2006, when any association with Bush was politically toxic, he had backed Bush's reelection in 2004 and led a raucous chant of "Four more years" at the Republican National Convention. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what John McCain ("President Bush deserves not only our support but our admiration"), Rudy Giuliani ("Thank God that George Bush is our president") and Mitt Romney ("I want George W. Bush!") did at the 2004 GOP convention, too.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Arnold Schwarzenegger George W. Bush War Room