- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 19, 2006

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told state Republicans at their convention yesterday that his re-election campaign is about the direction of California’s future, outlining the “clear choice” for rejecting the “failed policies of the past.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger, who faces voters this fall for the first time since winning a recall election in 2003, said his stance differs from that of his Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, on everything from economic policy to immigration.

“My opponent has never met a tax he doesn’t like or a tax he wouldn’t hike,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said to wild cheers from members of the state’s newly invigorated minority party.

Nearly 700 Republicans packed the luncheon hall, chanting “four more years” and waving a sea of orange and green campaign signs reading: “Protecting the California Dream.”

The actor-turned-governor said Golden State voters put their faith in him when choosing him as they ousted Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat. Now, he said, voting for him would not be an act of faith, but a judgment on what he’s delivered.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said that Democrats presided over a weak economy and noted that since taking his oath of office in 2003, he has reduced the state budget deficit, cut the car tax and boosted job growth — “all of this without raising taxes.”

The governor pledged to hire more police officers, champion environmental policy and keep the National Guard on the border until the federal government steps up with a “comprehensive” immigration plan.

He also said he would invest in building more roads, tunnels and bridges to improve California’s infrastructure.

“We have come too far, and we have achieved too much,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “The choice is clear: We say ‘no’ to the policies of the past and ‘yes’ to the dreams of the future.”

Mr. Angelides, the state treasurer, quickly dismissed the speech as distortion and lies.

“The governor has never met a special-interest giveaway that he doesn’t like,” the Democrat told The Washington Times. “The governor has never met a corporate tax loophole that he’s willing to close.”

He also complained that the Schwarzenegger campaign is using a “phony number” by saying that he would raise taxes by $18 billion.

“The governor knows better than to make false charges on my position on taxes,” Mr. Angelides said.

Last week, the Democrat outlined his plan to cut taxes for 2.5 million middle- and lower-income families.

But Mr. Schwarzenegger yesterday rattled off a list of taxes Mr. Angelides said he would raise, including a car tune-up fee. “He wants to tax virtually everyone, everywhere,” he said.

But Mr. Angelides said his tax plan would increase income taxes for couples earning more than $500,000 per year. It would also, he said, cut taxes by $660 per year for couples earning $100,000 or less.

Taxes are a theme that has been repeated throughout the campaign.

“There’s only one candidate in this race that is going to protect their wallets, and that’s Governor Schwarzenegger,” campaign manager Steve Schmidt said.

But one fiscal conservative staffing a “no tax hike” booth said he would rather Mr. Schwarzenegger “quit spending so much.” Still, the governor’s fiscal policy isn’t enough to get him to vote for Mr. Angelides.

“No way I’d pick him over Arnold,” said the Republican, who did not want to be named, expressing frustration with the governor.

Mr. Schwarzenegger holds a lead over Mr. Angelides, but many national Democrats are helping Mr. Angelides in hopes that growing national frustration with Republicans and President Bush will turn the election around in his favor.

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