Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger credits Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton for his decision to run for California governor in the historic 2003 election in which voters recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with the Republican action-movie superstar.
The revelation comes in a new mini-documentary about Skelton, the storied columnist who has chronicled California politics for more than half a century.
“What most people don’t know is that George Skelton is actually the one that is responsible, in a way, for me running for governor,” Schwarzenegger says in “Bold Ink: A Columnist’s Life,” a mini-documentary produced by L.A. Times Studios to mark Skelton’s 50th anniversary with The Times.
“I was on a movie set, I was doing ‘Terminator 3,’ minding my own business. Then I read the story about the recall and I called him,” Schwarzenegger recounts in the film by senior producer Karen Foshay. “And he says, ‘Well, you will be perfect, you would be a great candidate.’”
Skelton proceeded to interview him, Schwarzenegger said, and then wrote a column about their conversation.
“All of a sudden, from that point on, people were bombarding me and saying, ‘This is a great idea, you should run for governor,’” Schwarzenegger said. “I said, ‘Look, I’m doing a movie, I don’t have time for all this stuff.’ But then eventually it did drag me into the whole thing.”
The documentary about Skelton’s journalism career captures his unflinching style and includes interviews with several politicians he’s covered over the years. It will air Jan. 24 at 7 and 10 p.m. on L.A. Times Today on Spectrum News 1.