Inside Move: Playing the part

Arnold sheds showbiz to add election muscle

Call Arnold Schwarzenegger a wealthy man, a successful entrepreneur, even a member of the Kennedy clan. But don’t call him a Hollywood actor.

A recent Field Poll surveyed registered voters in California on whether various aspects of Schwarzenegger’s public image made them more or less inclined to vote for him.

Told “he is a Hollywood actor,” just 5% said that fact made them more inclined to vote for Schwarzenegger, while 26% said his movie career made them less likely to vote for him. (69% said it made no difference.)

For some perspective, Schwarzenegger’s status as a Hollywood actor scored bigger negatives than allegations he’s had extramarital affairs (19% saw that as a negative), his father’s membership in the Nazi party (18%) and his usage of steroids as a body builder (13%).

In his Aug. 20 press conference, shortly after the polling data was released, Schwarzenegger distanced himself from his campaign’s previously announced Hollywood supporters.

Rob Lowe, Schwarzenegger said, is “a very good friend” but not formally joining the campaign; CAA partner and Schwarzenegger’s agent Bryan Lourd likewise was not formally joining his council of economic advisers.

Republican political consultant Allen Hoffenblum disputes the notion that Hollywood is a problem for Schwarzenegger. However, he acknowledges, “What the acting does is give you name recognition. But that doesn’t get you elected on its own.”

Donna Bojarsky, a Democratic political consultant who works with entertainment figures, says people from Hollywood are held to a tougher standard than non-celebrities.

“It puts the burden of proof on him. He has to prove that he has what it takes to govern in a serious way.”