In his luncheon speech at the National Press Club yesterday, GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger emphasized bipartisanship while still making it clear that he has not become an Independent, NBC's Lauren Appelbaum reports. "I am still a proud Republican," he said. "I support the guiding principles of the Republican Party." He continued, "Isn't the ultimate principle to serve the people, to do the things that are good for the people? We are elected as public servants, not party servants."
Schwarzenegger focused on the issues of health care and immigration, calling for mandatory medical insurance for everyone. And while he recognized that some consider it controversial, he also called for coverage of children of undocumented immigrants: "The fact is that we have no choice about paying the medical bills of people that are here illegally in California... So the question really is not, should we treat them or not or should we cover them or not, but the real question is do we treat them in an emergency room at three or four times the cost of a doctor's office or health clinic, or do we treat them more efficiently and more cost-effectively?"
On immigration, he recognized the positions of extremes: sending all illegal immigrants back and building a fence, versus giving everyone amnesty, to which he replied: "I have an idea. What about being realistic and just actually solving the problem?" His solution? "Secure our borders while at the same time recognize economic and social reality by providing guest-worker programs and giving everyone citizenship who is already in the country and meet a certain criteria."
The Washington Times: "Mr. Schwarzenegger's proposal, while not original, is part of his carefully crafted message of 'post-partisanship' that appears aimed at a national audience."
"The mistake people make about [Schwarzenegger] is to assume that he must be at least somewhat embarrassed about his past careers," writes The Politico's Simon. "They think he must cringe just a little bit when reminded of how he wore tiny Speedos and lifted weights or played Conan the Barbarian in long hair and leather… In reality, however, Schwarzenegger is completely unabashed about his former professions. They do not embarrass him in the least."
The New York Times front-pages that the White House and the governors were at odds yesterday over the future of the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, which states have used to expand health coverage.