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Ronald Reagan Lost Iowa and Arnold Can Lose California

Ronald Reagan Lost Iowa and Arnold Can Lose California

Making Sense By Michael Reagan

If Arnold Schwarzenegger is serious about becoming governor of California he had better climb down from his celebrity perch and start acting like a candidate.

When I look at the way he's campaigning on Larry King and on Oprah and Howard Stern it occurs to me, that while he may be reaching a lot of people by doing that, is he really reaching the voters of California? Appearing on such national shows simply doesn't do the job of connecting with the people who count -- California's voters.

I've seen this kind of approach before. I saw it in Iowa back in 1980.

At the start of the 1980 presidential campaign, when my Dad, Ronald Reagan was running for the presidency, I got a call from a woman on my Dad's staff who asked me if I would go to Iowa and campaign on his behalf. When I asked her why they needed me in Iowa she said it was because the campaign was not letting my father campaign there.

So I went to Iowa and at the end of two weeks, after attending coffee and donut meetings and luncheons and dinners with Iowans and hearing they wanted my dad to come there, if not to debate George Bush, at least to speak to Iowans.

I called my father and told him that I believed he was going to lose Iowa because the campaign that was being run on his behalf was running it as if he were already the president of the United States or at least was already the party's nominee. The impression was that he thought he was somehow better than the other man running for the presidency, that is, George H.W. Bush.

I said the impression was that he had forgotten that the people of Iowa wanted to ask him questions about the issues that concerned them. My father told me that he had just gotten off the phone with his campaign staff who told him he was doing a fine job and there was nothing to worry about in Iowa.

I told him that after walking the precincts and meeting the people that he had a lot to worry about and that he was going to get beaten in Iowa because he was not there and George Bush was. He said "Thank you for the information," and he hung up.

Well, as history shows, my father got walloped in Iowa by George Bush and people were concerned that he might not be able to win in New Hampshire two weeks later.

Well two weeks later in New Hampshire, on primary day, my father called me and said "Mike I have a press release I am about ready to give to the media but I want your approval." I asked him why he would need my approval. And he said because I was the only one that would understand it. And he read me the press release that reported he had fired his top campaign staff that morning. I, of course approved it, we both had a good chuckle, and my dad told me he'd win the New Hampshire primary that day.

I recall that story because looking at Schwarzenegger 's campaign I realize he hasn't gone to a single debate - now they are putting up empty chairs with his name on it to emphasize his absence - and the only debate he is going to participate in is the one where they'll give the candidates pre-written questions before they walk in the room. Four of the major candidates are going to boycott it for that reason and he's going to be the lone guy out there.

I may be proven wrong, but having been down this road before I think it's important for Schwarzenegger to be involved with all the debates and get out there and talk to people, answer their questions, act like he really wants to become governor, and run like a candidate and not as a movie star.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Premiere Radio Network. Comments to mereagan@hotmail.comfor Mike.

© 2003 Michael Reagan.Mike's column is distributed by:

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