Arnold, what the heck are you doing? You're getting out of Hollywood to go into politics? Well, then forget agents and studio bosses--now you're dealing with real predators. But since your mind is made up, I hope you won't mind a little advice from someone who's been there.
Now, I know you're a Republican, but I hope you won't go out on the trail and act like a politician. Republican or Democrat, it makes no difference: people don't like politicians. Which is completely understandable, since most of them act like cyborgs, robotically selling the latest talking points from party headquarters.
So be yourself. Be Arnold. Be the guy who can sit and have a cigar with the crew. Be honest. Don't worry if you don't know the answer to every question asked. Just say, "I don't know," if you don't know. When I did this during my campaign in Minnesota, people were amazed. How revolutionary--a politician who stands in front of the people and doesn't feed them pre-canned answers!
To win, you have to convince people that you care enough to work hard and make tough decisions. And most importantly, that they are your own decisions.
Now that you are a candidate, you will be getting advice from all corners. Some of it will have checks attached. Whatever you do, keep your distance from special-interest groups, powerful lobbyists and their dirty money. The fact is, Arnold, you don't need them. You can win this race by going straight to the people.
When you use commercials, don't be negative. Be Arnold. Let people get to know your sense of humor, your work ethic, your leadership and your genuine concern for the average Joe. Think about what you want to say, and talk from your heart. Scripts are for actors. When I was running in Minnesota, I saw my two opponents with stacks of briefing books and advisers galore giving them instructions. A debate organizer once came up to me and offered a pen and pad. I said, "No, Ma'am, thanks anyway, but you see, if you tell the truth, you don't need a long memory."
Plenty of the old Republican gang will come around and want to be your new best friend. That's fine, but let them know that you are in government to solve problems, not to help them hold on to their power. Expose the status quo politicians of both parties who avoid making tough decisions. Sure, you'll make some enemies, but if you win, you've got a chance to change the game. Go for it. You didn't become an international superstar by playing it safe.
Finally, Arnold, beware of the media. I know you think you have a thick skin, but take my word for it--the press is brutal. The stuff it comes up with is nothing like a bad review for a recently released film. Good luck.
Ventura, former wrestler, actor and Governor of Minnesota, is creating a cable-TV show.