Bush, Schwarzenegger make no commitments

Meeting in California is cordial and brief

October 17, 2003|By Bob Kemper | Bob Kemper,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Their planned meeting was taking on all the tensions and trappings of a summit, but when President Bush and California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger finally got together yesterday, the meeting was very brief, cordial and free of any future commitment.

Two of the nation's most prominent Republicans huddled in the president's hotel room in Riverside, Calif., for about 15 minutes before traveling together another 15 minutes to nearby San Bernardino, where Schwarzenegger introduced the president as "my dear friend."

"This state is facing right now some serious challenges. I talked to him at great length about those problems," Schwarzenegger told a ballroom packed with Republicans, the biggest crowd Bush attracted during his two days on the West Coast. The president later departed for Asia.

"There is no greater ally that this golden state has in Washington than my dear friend," Schwarzenegger said.

Bush joked that he and Schwarzenegger had much in common - they married well, "some accuse both of us of not being able to speak the language," and both have big biceps. Then Bush added, "Well, two out of three isn't bad."

One of the first things Schwarzenegger promised he would do after winning election Oct. 7 was to ask Bush for "a lot of favors," meaning billions of dollars in federal aid to help close a state budget deficit that could range from $8 billion to $20 billion.

Among other things, Schwarzenegger is seeking additional federal reimbursements for programs benefiting illegal immigrants, health care and homeland security.

After their meeting, Schwarzenegger said he had not presented the president with any specific requests, bringing up "various different things" instead.

"These problems were not created overnight and they won't be solved overnight," Schwarzenegger said.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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