Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a grand day in Sacramento on Monday, first appearing at a climate change symposium with Governor Jerry Brown and then attending the unveiling of his portrait in the state rotunda. It was his first public appearance in Sacramento since he left office in 2011.
At the symposium, sponsored by his University of Southern California-based institute, Schwarzenegger said, “While the politicians in Washington can’t get anything done because of being stuck in these ideological foxholes, we here in California have two governors from two different parties, together in the same room fighting for the same green energy future.”
Brown was in a generous mood, too, the Associated Press reports, praising Schwarzenegger for passing AB32, the state’s 2006 global-warming law, which cleared a path for the state to sell carbon pollution credits in order to cut emissions.
Brown noted that Schwarzenegger had culled bipartisan support to get the bill passed, noting, “To get AB32 through the California legislature, that is heavy lifting, and I don’t think anyone should underestimate that. I’m not sure any other governor might have done this.”
Schwarzenegger asserted that such bipartisan support occurred because legislators were concerned about the financial effects of inaction on the state’s infrastructure.
Later in the day, Schwarzenegger traveled to the capitol rotunda, where an oversized portrait painted by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein was displayed. Heinwein had previously painted portraits of Andy Warhol and John F. Kennedy.
Schwarzenegger reminisced about how good California had been to him, calling it a place “where nothing is impossible.” He remembered dreaming about the state as a child, saying, “I dreamt about California every day, and I knew that one day I would have to come here to this beautiful state if I wanted to make my dreams a reality.” He joked that he would never have dreamed of having his portrait in the rotunda, adding, “I might have envisioned a sculpture on Muscle Beach.” He also said, “My seven years as governor were the most fulfilling years I’ve had in my life,”
Two of Schwarzenegger’s children joined him, Christopher, 16, and Patrick, 20. Some political luminaries including Willie Brown, Bob Hertzberg and Fabian Nunez also attended the event. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the portrait, which is larger than those of other modern day governors of the state and was paid for by Schwarzenegger, was appropriate because Schwarzenegger is “larger than life.” He added, “Singer Jerry Garcia had a wonderful quote saying, `You don’t want to be the best of the best. You want to be the only one that does what you do.’ And it’s a way to describe Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, joined the chorus, saying the portrait was “just right. I thought it was very dignified. It actually looked like a photograph to me.” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.