tv Arnold Schwarzenegger on Richard Nixon and the Environment CSPAN December 21, 2020 11:58am-12:37pm EST
c-span3 created by a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight from c-span's q&a series, historians susan schulten and eric rauchway talk about two of the most contentious presidents in u.s. history. in 1881 between james buchanan and abraham lincoln, and in 1953, herbert hoover and roosevelt. enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. the environmental protection agency launched 50 years ago this month during the richard nixon administration. to mark the anniversary, nixon
foundation president hugh hewitt interviews former california governor arnold schwarzenegger and about nixon's environmental record and the role it played in his career. pleased to welcome now, former governor of california arnold schwarzenegger here to celebrate the founding of the epa 50 years ago. governor, good to see you again. how are you? >> good to see you. i think we've done many interviews before, so it's great to see you again, yes. >> i opened your campaign, i barnstormed with you. you left me standing out in the rain a couple times in october of 2003 when you were delayed, so i think i heard twisted sister a lot more than you did, actually, governor. >> but look what happened after you hung out in the rain, you grew. you got bigger and better. >> but what's interesting, first time i ever met you, you will not recall this because i was just a functionary to richard
nixon was at the nixon library when we were hoping it in 1990, and you went to open it with president nixon. i don't even know how you came to be connected with president nixon, so before we get to the green stuff, tell us about that. >> i was always a big fan of richard nixon. i think i have talked about this even in my republican speech at the republican convention in 2004, how i became a republican because of richard nixon. i happened to move to this country from austria in 1968, which was like a month before thely finals, before the actual election, presidential election year. so i listened to hubert humphrey talk about his policies and the things he was doing in the future if he becomes president, and then i listened to richard nixon. and if was very lucky that i ha this friend, a jewish friend of
mine that spoke german fluently. and he translated for me because my english wasn't good enough, and he was telling me what they were all proposing, and then i said, well, this richard nixon, what party is he in? and he said, well, he's a republican. and i said, well, i i thithink,, i will be a republican, because this sounded so fantastic what he was talking about. free trade, and he was talking about getting government off your back, and he was talking about no taxes and decrease the taxes, strong military and, you know, personal freedoms and all of this kind of stuff. i said, oh, my god, that sounds so refreshing, so great in compared to what humphrey was talking about. it was like he was campaigning in austria for socialism or something like that. that's when i became a big fan of nixon, and of course, when he came into office and became president, i became an even bigger fan of his because i saw the action. also what was amazing was he saw
so many things in people's issues rather than as a political issue. so i was a fan and always hung around. i went to the nixon library and then they invited me to come to this event. i went there for the first time. i actually met president nixon and we hung out together, and i remember that he took me into his office down there, and we were talking about policy and about i told him i was a big fan of his and why i thought his policies and beliefs were so much up my alley. then he said to me, you know, you are very particular about policies and politics. you should run for governor. so he was actually the first one that proposed the idea to me, which was really interesting because he said, you are fantastic. then we had a great conversation, took some pictures with some of the comedians, and
bob hope was one of them that was there, i remember. then he says, okay, i have to go out and do a little speech. he says, why don't you come with me and you can hang out with me. so i just went out there, then he gave his speech to all of the -- i think it was like 1,500 people or so. the nixon library was packed. then out of nowhere, without ever telling me, he said, now i want to introduce my friend arnold schwarzenegger. he said, he's a great actor, this and that, and he's a good republican. arnold, do you want to say a few words? i didn't get any warning or anything like that at all from him. then i went and told the story of how i became a nixon fan and how i became a republican because of richard nixon and stuff. i kind of told this to the audience and they liked it. it was really a terrific evening, and i just really have some great pictures and fond memories of meeting him and all that. >> i was backstage for that, i
remember it happening, but i was back sta backstage. i did watch, to prepare for your interview, your interview with nixon at usc. richard nixon's party had a lot of democrats in it. he had a lot of spectrum of politics. when you staffed up, was that part of what was bothering you, was making sure everyone was represented in your administration. >> i felt his presidency was very successful because he was so kind of open-minded in that way. i think that lincoln was the first one that really hired, you know, to make part of his team. people did actually compete against him. so i think the whole idea of having a diverse group, people maybe don't agree with you, but they give you good insight of a different point of view. i think it's very healthy, and
because of richard nixon when i st saw him doing that, i always believed that's a good idea and to be inclusive, and that's what i did when i became governor, then. i had democrats there, i had state people there, i had republicans there. it was obviously a majority of republicans, but there were a few democrats there, and they were helpful when we had discussions about various issues to give me another point of view. it especially was important for me to have women around me, because that's another thing. il it's not just republicans versus democrats, but women think differently so i wanted to hear their point of view, how they look at the issues. i think i had the really great input of having a female chief of staff and having a woman listed in education and those things. from a woman's point of view on all of those things and the man's point of view. i knew the man's point of view
and i knew the public's point of view, but i needed different points of view. richard nixon was a great inspiration in that area. >> before i turn to the environmental legacy of president nixon and you, behind me is my studio, and the map of ohio is embedded in my display because i'm from the buckeye state. the arnold sports festival was actually the canary and the mind for covid. it's the first thing i remember being canceled. do you hope it will be back on the agenda in the spring for columbus, arnold schwarzenegger? >> i hope the fitness festival will be back. if it will be back in march or we delay it for a few months, we don't know yet because we don't know what will happen with the coronavirus and what effect it's going to have when we get the vaccines in order, but ohio has been a fantastic place for the world championships in bodybuilding, and we have 88
sports activities there with 22,000 athletes every year. so it was really like you said, the coronavirus made us really reduce down to just participants and spectators in the sports competitions but not having the fitness expo anymore which really attracts 250,000 people. but we are going to continue. ohio is a great place to hold those competitions, and we, of course, want to create a good balance to keep people safe, to create an environment where we have large gatherings, but at the same time have the competition sometimes. we just have to weigh and see what the experts in ohio say it is safe to do that, what we have planned to do. >> i just hope you keep in the buckeye state, governor. let's go to the environment. we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the epa today. we have administrator wheeler today. we spoke with former administrators before we talked to you. when you became governor, you
became the green governor. it surprised a lot of republicans. i among them. i was living in california then. i was like, what is arnold up to? i didn't understand the climate stuff, i hadn't heard. i'm not against climate stuff, i just didn't know that end of it. what did you champion for when you became governor? >> i think it has to do with what richard nixon and ronald reagan talked about. it had not so much to do with climate change, even though this was information given to me when i became governor, and i met with the scientists and university leaders that delved into the subject. but to me it was much more about smog and about pollution. and i remember ronald reagan created resources for that back in 1967, '68 because of pollution. he did not talk about climate change, we didn't even know
about those kinds of things at that time. but it was pollution. he was a common-sense kind of man that said, look, i see pollution out there. i don't see a republican pollution or democratic pollution, i just see pollution, and i want to get rid of it. i think it's our responsibility to do something about it. the same is true with richard nixon. look, i go out to california, they have the oil spills. remember in '68, '69, the oil spills dried up and the president came out here and inspected the hugest oil spill out here, and i remember walking around on venice beach and having my feet always full of tar because of the oil spill. he was concerned about keeping the world clean, keeping his country clean, getting rid of fossil fuels and fighting those kinds of things that pollutes our cities and our oegceans and our country. to me it was about that. it was let's get rid of pollution, let's terminate
pollution. that a lot of times means getting rid of fossil fuels and switching over to renewables, some more common sense things, and then later on i got into the climate change that you saw what effect it's going to have in the future. but it was, you know, remarkable of how advanced, you know, those guys were, like ronald reagan and richard nixon. richard nixon on a national level, if you think about it, we had already 1971 to celebrate earth week. the important thing that you're doing this program is that people really have to learn a little bit about the history. because most people, you know, they remember nixon from watergate. but this was to me what i remember nixon for is those kind of unbelievable, powerful visions that he had back in 1970 or '80 when he gave the state of
the union address, and he talked about, you know, so eloquently about how we have to have 50% success in the next ten years, but, he says, we cannot do it and be successful and, you know, ruin our environment. and we have to make sure that ten years from now, the president doesn't stand here and say we have 50% successful, but we polluted the air, we polluted the water and people got kind of, you know, overwhelmed with the noise pollution and this kind of thing. we have to protect all of that. and he even said the pollution will have a surprise attack of pollution. he was the first one to talk about these kinds of things. today bernie sanders talks about these kinds of things, but it's wild to hear him talk about those kinds of things.
i have listened to the speeches, read the speeches, and i think it's important for people to know the extraordinary work he did and how he sent the country on the right path and talked about the vision 50 years ago. 50 years ago. today you can literally have this speech -- if i were to deliver this speech, it would be my own beginning. then i would continue on with the nixon speech. i tell you, there would be no one to tell me this is an old speech. no, he whad that kind of visionary, and this is what i love about politicians when they're not just trying to go get into office and win, but they actually had a vision because then everything falls into place because you know where he wanted to go. >> for those who do not know, president nixon signed the national environmental act, the clean air act, the environmental species act and clean water act. >> in 1970 he formed the epa.
this was 50 years ago. this is what's so extraordinary about all of this. >> the person who is being tipped to run the epa under president-elect biden is mary nichols who i used to listen to and i was on the south coast by pete nelson and mary worked with you. i'm sure you worked with her when you were governor. i'm sure mary nichols was working in your ear demanding you do it this way. what do you think she'll do as an epa administrator. >> i hired mary nichols to run the resources created around ronald reagan. i hired her because ronald reagan was smart enough that he hired a scientist, one of the brightest people on this subject, he hired to lead the resources at that time. it was really an extra in
resources, so i felt i should do exactly the same thing and i should follow through with it and really hired the number one expert. and mary nichols is fantastic. she got to be head of the resources board, and since then she has done such an extraordinary job, because as everyone knows, politicians get together and they negotiate them with republicans and come up in a very good legislation, let's say. but there is someone that has to follow through. it's one thing to pass a law as we have seen now all over the world in 2015, you know, cop 21 in paris, there was the paris agreement. the whole world signed on to this u.n. agreement that says we're going to reduce greenhouse gas. congress itself decided what it wanted to do. 25% of the country did not follow through on its promises. that's a very sad story, and the reason they didn't follow
through is they didn't have resources for it. after they pass a law, they need to have an agency there that sees the problem. so our air and resources was able to do the things when i said, when i'm governor we can reduce greenhouse gases by 25% by the year 2020. guess what? the resources, and mary nichols got it in, two years earlier we leased air. everyone was screaming about our economy. look what happened. just last year r. someone sent me a congratulatory note and said, mr. schwarzenegger, i just want you to know -- now we have the
highest amount of jobs in the country. california is the best state in the union when it comes to gdp. like nixon says, we have to go and move forward and be successful, but not an expense of our environment. you guys predict environment at the same time. mary nichols is a big, big star. i hope she gets to be head of the epa because she has followed the oil companies, followed the car companies. what i was so impressed with was that she is sensitive. she's a very sensitive woman. that means that when someone sits there from caterpillar and says, mary, we cannot make this
for 2012. we need 2016 in order to change the engines and make it more efficient, because we have already started breaking tornadoes. wement. ly she understands we can't really do those things one year to the next. we made our adjustments and really rolled it back. as a matter of fact, i remember when the obama administration dmam and says, can you guys -- and senator john kerry called me and asked can you change the military standards and we can do it nationwide? ld i think that mary nichols is brilliant, i think she will really be great and she'll be a person that will work with the car companies and work with the fossil fuel companies and do it in a sensible way.
>> it will be interesting, governor, when she gets here and takes over that agency whether or not she'll be concerned about the flip side which i'll come back to. president nixon's key environmental adviser was a guy named arnold beckman. in fact, it's the beckman foundation paying for today's event. he was in richard nixon's ear maybe the same mary was in your ear. but they build bureaucracies and sometimes bureaucracies are not best for the person. do you think the bureaucracy is did he want up with science, governor? >> i would say that the majority of people in government are not really smart enough to make decisions. i think it's because they really don't have the interest in
studying the facts, they have more interest in doing their little republican talking points or democratic talking points. to me i despise that. i think the most important thing -- stumz presents agree f what it is origin of that. i just feel like told it's all about how do we go and win a race and how do we go and make things political. it is really not helping this country at all, because we now have gotten to a point that we are so full of pollution, i said i'm 73 years old, i'm going to start eating less meat. i'm not going to stop eating
meat, but i'm just going to eat less. i'm going to 80% be vegan. then they said, oh, come on now, you're becoming more and more liberal. i said, wait a minute, this is what the doctor is telling me. he didn't say i want you to change from a republican to a democrat, to be a liberal, and therefore, change your diet. it says you're doing a great job in order to keep it up and you can feel what happens when your arteries are less clogged and you eat less meats. people talked to me about it, they became full vegan. i could never be full vegan. when i go to austria, i have to have my turkey dinner when it's thanksgiving. but throughout yeert i will eat 80% less meat. the same thing with the virjts
how can you go. there is no republican air or democrat air. we all breathe the same air. let's clean the water. let's do everything possible to keep our water clean so we don't have to worry when we turn on the faucet that maybe it's polluted water coming up. >> in 2008 i was one of the panelists, and it was john kasich. in the green room when we were preparing for the debate, one of my panelists asked about global warming. i said, i'll tell you what the answer will be. it's a do you see any way out of that snl fwaurltsz, but there is
a talking point, just absolute de deadlock. >> i think the key thing is republicans feel uncomfortable with the idea of global climate change. i said to john kasich and to others, don't use the grid, you don't have to use the grid. as if that is the sticking point, and if that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk about pollution. nixon didn't talk about pollution. in california, i've seen it first hund the because they did not dwlaers, and they're the creators of the family and prote protectors of health, so they were concerned about pollution,
they were concerned about health care, they were concerned about education. and the republican party in california didn't address those issues and requested to take that off the table of the democrats and make it their kind of a thing. so they lost it and i'm just worried about what's going to happen nationwide when the republican party does not impress those very important issues. they're people a issues and shouldn't be political issues. i would just say the republicans not say i caved in or anything like that, just say, look, i don't believe in this global climate change but i do want to get rid of the pollution. >> governor, would you be willing to serve in a biden administration? >> look, my mother-in-law, eunice kennedy shriver, told me a long time ago never turn down a president. it doesn't matter the party. i already made it clear to the biden administration that i'm not looking for a job or
anything like this, but that i am more than happy to help in any way i can. >> would you be willing to help by running for senate in 2022? senator harris is going to be vice president harris. they're going to have a special election in 2022. what about arnold for senate? >> i'll tell you one thing, in this coming year i have already signed an agreement to do a tv series, which is kind of like a "true lies" tv series about being a superspy with comedy and action and all that stuff, which i'm really looking forward to. i'm not looking for another political job or anything like that. what i'm looking for, basically, is just to be helpful. that's why we created the schwarzenegger institute and to have symposiums there and to have, you know, kind of at gatherings where the brightest minds come together and talk about these very important issues. if it is pollution, if it is
health care, universal health care, or if it is political reform, if it is immigration reform. any of those kind of issues we discuss, or equality in america, which is another important issue that i think needs to be addressed. i just to want use my sbrechlt power to further those kinds of issues rather than anything to do with politics. but issues are politics and sometimes politics get in the way of really good policy. >> now the industry can run statewide, governor. it's a jungle primary, it's whoever comes in first or second. do you have any interest in the senate at all? that wasn't a no, that was i'm busy in 2021. that wasn't anything about 2022. >> i have no interest running for senator or running for anything, as far as that goes.
>> wrong answer, governor, but okay. tell us a little about the future ahead for movies with you. i see "conan" is in production. there are lots of things you could do. what are you going to do besides a tv show? >> i'm doing a tv show, i'm doing an animated -- right now we are putting together an animated tv series which is for kids where it's a superhero kindergarten. it's kind of like the idea of "kindergarten cop," the movie i did which was highly successful but making it with kids becoming, in the future, superheroes like the "batman"s, "super man," and i have to teach them to use their powers sgor good or evil. this is really a lot of, lot of
fun. i'm working with the animators. we do the voice-over for that and my character for "kindergarten cop" is teaching this. i was an ex kind of superhero myself, now retired, and now i'm the teacher of these kindergarten kids that have superpowers. >> let me close on politics. richard nixon, arnold schwarzenegger, pete wilson. is the republican party in california dead? >> well, potentially no. potentially i think it can really come back, but you have to face the issues of california. i think california is just an interesting mix of people. and i found out when i was governor, which means that they can be very, very conservative in some ways. like, for instance, voting for capital punishment.
but at the same time, you know, they're very kind of liberal in other ways. with environmental issues, you can see clearly that they are very concerned about pollution, they're very concerned about keeping the state clean and keeping the country clean and keeping the world clean. education. they are very concerned about education. these are the issues as i was talking earlier about, that the republican party would need to address, and they need to come more to the center rather than being out there way to the right. it's perfectly fine to be to the right and to be way to the right. it's perfectly fine. but you need to know as a party to also have a center and kind of a big tent that ronald reagan and nixon always talked about. that's what made those candidates appealing. that's why those candidates, like nixon and reagan, became president, because it's the
california way. they have shown the way to the republican party of california what is the way to go. but, believe me, when i talked to ronald reagan rkts he told mel ld he thought the republican party -- she was like, oh, my gosh, these people are idiots. she fought with the republican party and had her own thinking about it. same with richard nixon, i'm sure he fought with them. i didn't talk to him about that subject, and every one of those guys had their own little problems with the party, because it was so extreme and that's not california. so you will lose, and that's why you see now the democrats have an absolute maturity in sacramento, and it's a shame because it does not show off the state well when you have an absolute maturity.
when you show off the state well, you have a majority. i think it's much better when there is a rich balance when sometimes republicans win, sometimes democrats win. that's what makes it competitive. there is no competition now. you know and i know that competition is what makes -- what creates excellence. competition is what creates performance. and this is why we need competition in this state again in order to get rid of some of this stupid dialogue that they have about tax increases and about doing this. don't destroy the state. let's keep it the way it is. let's keep it stable. no, we don't need anymore regulatio regulations, we don't need tax increases. let's move forward to be the number one state in the union, but let's not push them out of state. >> there is a new club at the nixon library called the presidents club, about how
presidents stay friendly with each other because they've been in the job. there is a governors club. you're in it. pete is in it. i think nixon did as good as he could. he accused you of being a democrat. he said, i saw gavin said arnold is becoming a democrat, i don't believe that. but i think he's doing the best he can with the virus. what do you think? >> i think that, first of all, pete and myself, we felt -- and sherry brown, we felt honored that he reached out to us and talked to us about moving forward with the coronavirus. we have meetings with him and talk about issues what we think. i think that was very smart. of course, his -- the kind of debacle he had with the french laundry didn't help him at all because it makes it look like, you're telling us what to do but
then you go ahead and do whatever you want. and that's the big problem that has been the case with a lot of politicians, as you know, that they fall into this trap. like nancy pelosi going to get her hair done without a mask, without anything, when she tells everyone to wear a mask and to stay six feet apart. you have to be very careful about when you want to be a leader. but those things happen. it happened to me, it happened to other people. so i don't even look at that as kind of a big issue. i think it is just important to clean that up. but i think we have to, you know, be buckled down. i think we haved, if a vaccine comes out and slowly gets distributed, we have to do everything we can to protect lives. i think that's the state's responsibility and it's the federal government's responsibility. i should say ultimate responsibility to protect lives and to save people's lives.
and that's what he's trying told, and it's very tough to please everybody because in politics you have your own thoughts. as soon as you affect a person's life and give them coronavirus, from that point on, you don't have the right to do whatever you want. we have a stop sign there because we want you to stop. if you run through the stop sign, you can kill somebody, so you don't have the right to go through and do whatever you want. it's like, to be considered to other people, it's selfish to other people, and it's selfish to think about yourself and your rights. i think people go to the extreme, although i do believe we have our rights, they tell us what to do and blah, blah, blah. but in this case we have to fix other people and we do have to
be considerate toward other people. >> governor, i hope we see you at the nixon library when we reopen. i'll show you around the new exhibit, and i appreciate you being part of the commemoration of richard nixon starting the epa 50 years ago. >> with great pleasure. i did this interview, and i urge all of you to go out and tell the world about how great richard nixon was and what great policies he implemented and what a great believer -- what a approximate shocking kind of visionary nefs so many areas. don't just think, and i think trump and all of those guys, and biden and all of those, they all have to go and look at that presidency carefully and learn from that how they're being inclusive and how to really move forward and have a vision for the future. >> thank you, governor. >> absolutely.
thank you very much, hugh. you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past. c-span3 created as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight from c-span's q&a series, historians susan schulten and eric rauchway talk about two presidential transitions in history. between james buchanan and abraham lincoln, and in 1933 between herbert hoover and franklin roosevelt. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. the environmental protection agency launched 50 years ago this month with the nixon administration. next this is a panel discussion with two former epa administrators. they'll look past a chiefments and future endeavors. >> i welcome everybody to the nixon foundation. we are celebrating on december 20, 2020. richard nixon brought the nation into being. earlier that year he signed the environmental act. we're here with panelists who are ready to talk about the past 50 years. i'm happy to welcome christin