In the press room at the Reagan Library — actually a very chilly tented space near the Air Force One hangar where the debate was held — journalists struggled with where to put Arnold in their stories.
Is he the lead, or is the debate the story?
Just as the debate was starting came the news that Schwarzenegger would endorse McCain, even though he refused to say so just minutes earlier at a short press conference.
The announcement will be made on Thursday in Los Angeles, and apparently Schwarzenegger held off revealing it himself because he didn’t want to upstage Rudy Giuliani’s announcement. McCain will appear with the governor at a press conference at Solar Integrated Technologies in Los Angeles.
In the post-debate “Spin Room,” Rob Stutzman, a former adviser to Schwarzenegger now working as an adviser to Romney, was careful in explaining how it isn’t a major blow for his candidate.
He said, “In California, I don’t think it is a huge impact. Schwarzenegger has been a great governor and is very popular with Republicans. But Republicans, while grateful and fans, also know that he is not necessarily a conservative. And this race will be decided by where the conservatives go on Tuesday, who they will coalesce around. And I don’t think they will take whole a lot of cues from what the governor does or even what Rudy Giuliani does, even though I think they are very popular with conservatives. It doesn’t necessarily translate into attracting conservative votes for John McCain.”
Still uncertain is what will happen to Giuliani supporters, particularly those in Hollywood. It’s likely that many will go to McCain, although they may not take an active role in the process like they have in the past year. And that is where it really hurts: Because his campaign started and ended in Florida, it never even got to California. He was supposed to have a Hollywood fund-raiser this evening, but that was obviously scuttled when he dropped out today.