Where does Schwarzenegger stand on Indian issues?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Throughout the few short weeks of the California gubernatorial recall campaign Arnold Schwarzenegger has been routinely criticized for his lack of specifics on issues.
During that same period he has also relentlessly criticized his opponents for collecting campaign money from the large casino owning tribes, who have largely supported Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks.
However, despite his overall lack of political experience and questions about his own corporate campaign donors, Schwarzenegger according to most polls, has at least remained within striking distance of the governorship should Gov. Gray Davis be recalled, though he has consistently trailed behind Bustamante.
Even with the fiery rhetoric aimed at tribal donations, Schwarzenegger spokesman, Sean Walsh insists that Schwarzenegger would not be biased against tribes should he win.
Walsh said that his boss "respects and understands tribal sovereignty," and is only critical of his opponents because campaign donations would make them beholden to tribes across the board.
"He [Schwarzenegger] wants to be free to judge each individual issue based solely on its merits," insists Walsh.
Walsh also accuses Bustamante and McClintock of only paying lip service to Indian issues and points to Schwarzenegger's personal involvement in tribal fitness programs. Schwarzenegger was selected by the first president Bush to head a national fitness program.
Additionally Walsh claims that Schwarzenegger has questions whether or not his boss' two main rivals had ever even been to visit an Indian reservation and claims that Schwarzenegger has done so on many occasions.
"While they [Schwarzenegger's rivals] have talked the talk, Schwarzenegger has walked the walk.
However, a few weeks ago in a conference telephone call, Viejas vice-chairman Bobby Barrett recounted a Bustamante visit to Viejas. Several other Indian insiders point out that Bustamante has made numerous visits to other reservations including one for the grand opening of water bottling facility on the Morongo reservation.
Additionally Walsh said that Schwarzenegger opposes Proposition 54, the so-called Racial Privacy Initiative that would prevent the state from collecting racial data. Many prominent Indian leaders in California oppose this proposition.