by CalWatchdog Staff | June 14, 2011 5:22 pm
JUNE 15, 2011
By BRIAN CALLE
In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 comedy, “Kindergarten Cop,” the most repeated line came as Arnold’s character mentioned he had a headache and a child in the film responded to him, “It might be a tumor.” Arnold famously responded, “It’s not a tumor.”
But Tom Fuentes, chairman emeritus of the Orange County Republican Party, disagrees. On Tuesday night at the county party’s annual fundraising Flag Day dinner. Fuentes minced no words when he emphatically exclaimed from the stage that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a tumor for the California Republican Party.
Flag Day is an annual tradition held by the Orange County GOP. It is the largest event the party hosts all year, with more than 800 attendees, including activists, donors, elected officials and media. It is perhaps also the largest annual gathering of Republicans in California, so it often helps set trends for Republican ideas and rhetoric for the state and sometimes nation.
In prior years, the Orange County Flag Day festivities have made national headlines. One of the more memorable occurrences in recent years also involved Schwarzenegger when, in 2008, Florida governor Charlie Crist made flattering remarks about then-Gov. Schwarzenegger that resulted in a chorus of boos from the audience and an onslaught of national media coverage over the gaffe. In hindsight, that evening may have spelled the beginning of the end for Crist’s political career.
Last year, Crist bolted the GOP to run as an independent for the U.S. Senate, but lost to Republican Marco Rubio.
Fuentes, being honored for his 20 years of service to the OC GOP, took the stage after his son, T.J. Fuentes, delivered an invocation, former U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Herschensohn led a toast in his honor, and current OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh introduced him. Fuentes was brief but his remarks had bite.
As expected, Fuentes acknowledged his battle with cancer, but also took the opportunity to firmly relate his illness to the struggles of the GOP:
Yes, your old chairman has cancer. But, in this battle, I remember that many of you have stood with me when we have battled cancers in our party, in times past. Cancers that have threatened the very life of the conservative cause we love. Cancers from the Left; tumors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, special interests, and self-serving, narcissistic politicians and organizations who abandon philosophy for power; those who think money is more important than people and noble ideas. And, those owned by government employee labor unions.
His messaged was a showstopper. It was a reminder to many in the audience about schisms in the state and local GOP and a call to action to preserve the conservative cause. Fuentes continued:
In the long run, we have won those battles, because we stood true to our convictions. And, now, we go on, together, to fight again, in 2012, for the conservative movement that we cherish.”
At a time when Republicans in California are searching for a new or renewed identity, Fuentes’ words, while scathingly critical, may also be prescient. The California Republican Party needs to find a way to attract voters and undue damage done to its reputation from the Schwarzenegger years.
Some may argue, like Fuentes, that a commitment to conservative principles and thus the nomination of conservative candidates — instead of Schwarzenegger-like Republicans — is the path to a thriving Golden State GOP. Others Republicans may simply say: “It’s not a tumor.”
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