As reported by the Los Angeles Times, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari compared himself to former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, noting that Schwarzenegger was defeated by a conglomerate of the state’s unions because “he needed to be loved.”
Kashakari’s remark was a response to a question from a member of the audience at the waterfront Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, where a convention for owners of self-storage facilities took place. The question put to Kashkari was how he would succeed where Schwarzenegger failed in reforming the state. Kashkari first noted that Schwarzenegger had lost to public employee unions when he battled with them over four ballot measures in 2005. Then he continued:
He took on the cops, the teachers, the firefighters, all the big unions. And they came out, they locked arms, and they just defeated him across the board. Once that happened, Gov. Schwarzenegger had a symptom that so many in Hollywood have – he needed to be loved. And once you need to be loved, you’re never going to do really hard things, because doing hard things means you’re going to make some people mad at you.
Kashkari then compared Schwarzenegger’s lack of will to his own unpopular stance when he supervised the $700-billion Wall Street bailout called the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He said bluntly:
When I talk about my need to be loved, I like to point out I’m the guy who ran TARP. What got us through the financial crises is we didn’t give a damn about popularity, we didn’t give a damn about polls. We just did what we believed was the right thing to do, and at the time, we were hated for it. But it was the right thing to do, and it worked, and we protected the country, and we protected taxpayers.
Kashkari iterated his basic philosophy of governance: that even if he only served one term but succeeded at changing the state, that would be enough. “I just know who I am, and if I can get elected and we make big changes and people are mad as hell, and I’m a one-term governor and we did big things, I could sleep well at night,” he said.