"Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, weighing a run for the job, met Thursday with Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser.
If he decides to run, Schwarzenegger may face a challenge from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who has spoken to senior Republicans about running for California's top job, according to a Bush adviser. Rice's candidacy is a "real possibility," this adviser said, adding that Rice wants to take on an executive role.
This opens up some interesting possibilities for the GOP in a major electoral college state that is firmly in the hands of the Democrats but beleaguered by multiple problems and the highly unpopular Democratic Governor Gray Davis. While the idea of a Schwarzeneger candidacy might cause chuckles in some quarters, Arnold would be a major headache for Democrats if he ran for Senator or Governor in California as would a Condoleeza Rice candidacy though for very different reasons.
Merely running for governor of California would make Rice a heavyweight contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. Armed with a Ph.d, experience in foreign affairs in two Bush administrations, attractive and personable on television Rice's candidacy would send a powerful symbolic message to the nation about Republican commitment to minority inclusion in the American dream. California Democrats do not have a candidate of similar stature unless they can persuade Diane Feinstein to abandon the Senate to battle Rice for the governorship ( Barbara Boxer, something of a liberal lightweight in the Senate, is no match for Rice intellectually ).
By contrast, Schwarzenegger would bring his fame, fortune and an outsized steamroller personality in the same way that he engineered a successful ballot initiative for after school programs. Neither money nor media would be a problem in a state that once elected Ronald Reagan. Aside from being free of any fundraising worries - Schwarnegger ranks thirtieth on the Forbes' celebrity 100 list - he would appeal to the conservative base of the GOP while bringing to the ballot box the same apolitical, alienated, young, white male voters who showed up in Minnesota unexpectedly to hand Jesse " the Body " Ventura an upset victory.
California is a " must have " state for Democrats in presidential contests - a loss in 2006 or even a tough race that electrifies a moribund state GOP, bodes poorly for their chances of dominating national politics.