Warren Beatty Discusses Political Duel With Arnold Schwarzenegger
Following is the complete transcript of the interview.
RITA COSBY, HOST: First, another live and direct exclusive, a heavyweight political dual that could only come out of Hollywood. Actor Warren Beatty is pulling out all the stops against California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. There's a special election tomorrow in the state of California, and Beatty and his actress wife, Annette Bening, are out on an all- out political assault, challenging Governor Schwarzenegger's positions on things like unions, government spending, redistricting and teachers. The celebrity couple even took their protest straight to one of the governor's campaign rallies this weekend.
Warren Beatty joins me now live on the phone. Warren, why did you think it was important to go to the rally?
WARREN BEATTY, ACTOR: Well, what I felt was that since I've never heard the governor debate any living human being, that it would be worth the trouble to go over there and see if maybe I could lure him into some sort of debate situation. But I didn't really think it was going to happen because I know that his events are all tightly controlled and no people who are disputing anything would get into them.
So it happened pretty much the way we felt it would, which was we went over there and then they did shut the doors when we showed up. And so we listened respectfully. We had to wait an hour in the sun, which was -- well, we got more than our fair share of vitamin D. But you know, then we got to respond to what the governor had said, but he hadn't been really saying anything different from that set speech that he gives.
COSBY: What kind of a job do you think this governor is doing? I mean, his approval rating has slipped so much. I was just seeing "The Washington Post" today, 56 percent was his approval in February, 38 percent last month. What kind of a governor is he?
BEATTY: Well, you know, I'm a Democrat so I'm not fond of what he's done. This election really shouldn't, I think, be happening. It's -- these things should have been settled in the legislature, and they could have been. I know the legislature wanted to do that. It might have been a very difficult process, but if that couldn't have been accomplished, then I don't know why $60 million to $80 million of the taxpayers' money should be spent on a November election, when you've got another election right around the corner in June, in which there would be, you know, a higher voter turnout.
But that is the reason why we've been delivered this thing by the governor. It is that it's deliberately designed to produce a low voter turnout. So what Annette and I were doing was just trying to make a case for getting out the vote and don't try to protest these initiatives by staying home. That wouldn't accomplish anything.
The initiative is sort of -- to me, they're like Trojan horses. They kind of decorate it. From the outside, they look like one thing, but when you open them up, they're entirely different. The descriptions are -- of them are deceptive, and then when you open them up, they're just -- down the line, they're manifestations of this right-wing agenda that is bad for working people and bad for education in the state of California.
And the thing that -- we all seem to agree that there should be something done about redistricting, but we don't want to do it the way that Tom DeLay has done it, and we -- and this system that is offered on this ballot is wildly oversimplified. To get three old retired judges drawn out of a hat and assume that they're going to be nonpartisan, that's not very cognizant of the history of good people who've become judges, but they're Democrats and Republicans.
So why we wouldn't go to a substantial panel of 15 or 20 people to hash these things out and then give that back to the legislature, have them hash it out, then go to the governor is beyond me. It's -- we should do that. We should change the way we do redistricting...
COSBY: Now, Warren, you in your film -- you know, in the movie, 1998 movie, Bulworth...
COSBY: ... which we all love very much, you know, you talked about, you know, running for politics and that -- you said publicly that you don't have an interest, but are you having a change a heart now, getting this -- getting this involved?
BEATTY: I didn't say I don't have an interest. I said I don't want to. And the only thing you can do in some situation like this is tell the truth. I can tell you at this -- right now, I don't want to run for governor. But I've never wanted to run for public office. I think if you get out and you tell the truth, you know, you can perform a public service without being an elected public servant.
COSBY: Warren, what would you do, though, if the public -- because you do have a lot of folks who very much support you and think very fondly of you -- you say you don't want to, but what if there's enough of a base to push you? Would you -- would you rule it out?
BEATTY: Well, I don't think anybody should rule out public service. That would be bad citizenry, you know? That would -- that would be bad citizenship, I should say. That's not -- that's not a good -- that's not a -- that's not a thing I would want to do, to rule out completely the idea of public service.
But I think that you have to be a pretty generous guy to want to run for public office now and serve in public office. And you know, I like what I do. I make movies, and I produce my own movies, and I can do it when I want to do it. And I have a 13-year-old, an 11-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 5-year- old, and Annette and I have a -- quite nice life and -- but I couldn't predict anything, really. I don't -- I have to say I don't want to do it. That's the truth.
COSBY: But if you were pushed into it and how would -- how does Annette feel? Could there be a first lady Bening?
BEATTY: Well, I -- in my opinion, there could be a Governor Bening because she's pretty spectacular both in her energy and her approach, I think, to public issues. She's -- she's quite something.
COSBY: Do you think, Warren, then, I guess, in both cases, we can't rule either one of you out, if the calling is made, if folks say, Look, I like his message, even if you don't have it necessarily in your desire, but you really feel a sense of commitment, if the call came, right?
BEATTY: Well, I can only tell you how I feel now, which is I don't want to do it. But -- but then I think you have to make a point to never say never and to not know, you know, what is around the corner or what could happen.
COSBY: Warren Beatty, we thank you so much for being with us. I know you're very busy, and it's really a great honor to have you with us tonight, Warren.
BEATTY: Thank you for calling.
COSBY: Thank you so much, Warren.
BEATTY: OK. Bye-bye.
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