Schwarzenegger Win Not Omen of GOP Adopting Liberal Policy; A Republican Party Strategist Says "Huge Tug to the Left Is the Liberals' Fantasy."

Article excerpt

Byline: Ralph Z. Hallow, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's smashing California victory does not presage a Republican shift to the left, even though he ran as a social liberal, Republicans say.

"The idea that there will be a huge tug to the left is the liberals' fantasy and the pessimistic fear of some on the right," said Republican strategist Grover Norquist.

Abandoning opposition to abortion, homosexual "marriage" and gun control is not in the cards for the national party, conservative leaders say, because the Republican Party must offer strong incentives for millions of normally apolitical religious conservatives to turn out in presidential and congressional elections.

"No less than [White House chief strategist] Karl Rove himself has said the 2000 presidential election was so close because some 4 million religious conservatives failed to vote," said Free Congress Foundation Chairman Paul M. Weyrich. "Most likely, this was the product of the last-minute smear campaign against President Bush regarding an old drinking charge.

"But some of it was also related to a false impression in evangelical circles that Bush [who ran as a social conservative] would [govern like] a liberal on social issues," Mr. Weyrich said. "Some of these voters returned to the Republican fold to give the GOP its surprising upset victory in 2002."

"If these voters feel that the party is moving to the left on social issues, they will stay at home and perhaps take more voters with them because they are not Republican Party people as such," Mr. Weyrich said.

Republican pollster Ed Goeas said the "fact that Arnold was a moderate candidate on social issues had nothing to do with his victory. The two problems that voters saw as existing in California on Tuesday were the economy-slash-budget and Gray Davis."

By Wednesday, the Davis problem was gone, and only the budget/economic problem remained. "That is what Schwarzenegger's governorship is going to focus on," Mr. Goeas said.

But at least one conservative Republican predicts the Schwarzenegger win will prove pivotal.

"I think, five years from now, you're going to look back and you're going to see this election as a turning point where the Republican Party was taken over by Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani - an independent, more centrist Republican Party, that I may not agree with 100 percent," said former Rep. …