Reminiscence: Arnold Announces for Governor

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

In yesterday’s Politico California Playbook, Carla Marinucci remembered the day 14 years ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger caught the world by surprise in announcing for governor in the 2003 recall. Carla linked to the article she wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time about what happened that night on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.”

The story brought back memories for me too, and in these dog days of summer with the legislature on vacation, there is space to recall those memories.

I had agreed to work for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for governor during the 2003 recall—if he was going to run. But he wasn’t. That was clear from the signals he gave out. So when I was asked to join the fledgling campaign of former Major League Baseball commissioner and president of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, Peter Ueberroth, I agreed on the condition that if Arnold decided to run I would fulfill my commitment to him.

On August 6, the day of Schwarzenegger’s appearance on the Leno Show, a meeting was called at Ueberroth’s office in Newport Beach with Peter and the consultants brought on board to advise him.

We sat down to start our meeting when suddenly Peter’s assistant came into the room and said that there was an important phone call Peter must take. (Back in the day before instant communication with text and Internet). Soon Peter came back to announce that he had been informed that Schwarzenegger had made his startling announcement on Jay Leno’s Show. (Remember, the show was taped late in the afternoon in Burbank.)

To say everyone around the table was stunned is to put it mildly. A radio was found to listen to news reports. Then the meeting was called to order. Peter turned to me, thanked me for participating to the extent that I had, and excused me from the meeting, keeping to the agreement we made.

Dazed, I drove a few blocks but instead of fighting the early evening traffic, I found a pizza parlor and ordered a pizza and a beer and wondered what happened.

Without hearing from anyone from the Schwarzenegger campaign, the next day, I drove to Arnold’s production office in Santa Monica ready for work and found chaos and complete disarray. I had to call home and ask my son to bring my laptop computer to the office so I’d have something to work on—and in exchange I’d give him a quick tour of the life-sized models of the Terminator and other movie memorabilia.

Thus began a very wild and energetic two months that somehow brought another Hollywood ending for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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