After a year of playing hard to get, Arnie finally agrees to stump up

Arnold Schwarzenegger loves to keep people guessing. He did it when he was weighing whether to run for governor of California last summer, and he's been doing it again in response to Republican Party entreaties to stump for George Bush.

After playing hard to get for the past year - California is, after all, resolutely anti-Bush - he has at last agreed to make a single appearance with the President in Ohio tomorrow.

Last week, he made headlines by joking that his Democratic wife, Maria Shriver, had withheld sex for two weeks after he endorsed MrBush at the Republican National Convention in New York in August. Not a line to gladden the hearts of religious conservatives.

Then, on Monday, he appeared with one of the most liberal Democrats in the Golden State, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and used the occasion to discuss his support of civil rights for gay couples - another no-go area for the President's Christian base. Asked on that occasion whether he was going to be joining Mr Bush on the campaign trail, he said he hadn't made up his mind yet.

The Terminator turned governor is not known for being shy or indecisive. But he has quickly proved himself a master of the great political chess game. The will-he, won't-he mystery surrounding his dramatic entry into politics last year was a masterful publicity coup. This time around, his carefully plotted indecision appears to have been designed to reassure California voters of his moderate bona fides while at the same time doing his duty to his party.

His appearance in Columbus, the Ohio state capital, will almost certainly heighten his political profile - and help him solidify his claim to being the rising star of the hitherto out-of favour, moderate wing of the Republican Party. Whether it will boost President Bush's chances remains to be seen, however.

The staunchly conservative Bush Republican establishment has reason to feel as ambivalent about Mr Schwarzenegger as he does about them. He is a pro-gay rights, pro-choice governor with a colourful personal mythology of sexual escapades, steroid use and general Hollywood excess. His star power is as much of a turn-off to the party's heartland base as it is a draw to undecided moderates. He may be a potent weapon, but he needs to be used with extreme caution.

His relationship with President Bush has been frosty. At the beginning of the year, he made clear he would go out on a limb for the President if California was given federal funds to help close its yawning budget gap. When the money failed to materialise, he all but snubbed Mr Bush during a fundraising tour of the Golden State in March.

None of that was in evidence, however, as he announced his intention to hit the campaign trail. "We are Republicans and have to support one another," he said. "The whole idea is to go back there to be helpful to President Bush. I want to be a support system for him."

Several Californian political analysts noted yesterday that this is a win-win situation for him. If President Bush wins the election, Mr Schwarzenegger will have done enough to stay in the White House's good graces. And if he loses, Mr Schwarzenegger will be in a prime position both to do business with the new administration and to take a leading role in reshaping the Republican Party of the future.

"He has bought himself some running room with liberals, Democrats, moderates and progressives," Democratic Party consultant Garry South told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Besides, if you were Schwarzenegger and knew Bush was going to crash and burn in your home state, wouldn't you go to another state too?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future