Amid budget gridlock, Schwarzenegger may skip GOP event
SACRAMENTO - When the Republican convention opens Monday night, its prime-time lineup could be missing one of its biggest draws: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Shackled by the mundane business of state government, Schwarzenegger is vowing to remain in California if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on a state budget, now two months overdue.
"The work for the people of California, and to solve this budget problem, is the most important thing right now for me," Schwarzenegger said yesterday during a news conference in Los Angeles.
A budget deal by showtime seems unlikely at this point, potentially costing Schwarzenegger a national platform and GOP nominee John McCain a high-profile supporter who has been popular with the kind of independent voter McCain hopes to attract.
Schwarzenegger's absence also would be a letdown for television networks, which would lose one of the biggest potential draws on the convention's opening night. Other speakers scheduled for Monday include President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and numerous members of Congress.
Schwarzenegger's failure to commit is proving to be a source of frustration for convention organizers, who like to nail down their programs well in advance. Given the star power of the actor turned politician, they will still squeeze him into a prime slot if they can get him.
The stalled budget already forced Schwarzenegger to curtail nearly all appearances this summer. His efforts to cajole lawmakers into a compromise have repeatedly fallen flat. California is the only state with a fiscal year that began July 1 that has not approved a spending plan.