Schwarzenegger Hires Former Bush Media Consultants

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign has hired two media consultants who helped President Bush win a second term in 2004.

Alex Castellanos, a prominent Republican ad-maker in Arlington, Va., heads National Media. Fred Davis III, of Los Angeles, heads Strategic Perception.

Both were part of the team that created the Bush campaign commercials portraying Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, as a waffling, Washington insider.

The moves were announced by the campaign on Monday.

Castellanos and Davis are the latest in a string of former Bush aides hired by Schwarzenegger. His lead strategist is Matthew Dowd, who ran most aspects of Bush's re-election campaign. Schwarzenegger's campaign manager is Steve Schmidt, who worked on Bush's re-election campaign before joining the White House as an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Public opinion polls show the Republican governor is likely to face a tight re-election race. His popularity has slid over the past year, especially among the moderate Democrats and independent voters he needs to win a second term.

Last year, voters rejected all four of the initiatives Schwarzenegger promoted for the November special election. So far this year, the governor has failed to persuade the Legislature to go along with an ambitious public works spending plan, his main legislative proposal for the year.

To help burnish his image, Schwarzenegger released his first campaign commercial on Monday. It touts the state's rebounding economy and job gains, while highlighting work Schwarzenegger did mostly during his first year in office. That includes cutting an unpopular increase in the state's vehicle license fee and reforming the workers' compensation system.

Dowd said the commercial will air in Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego but would not say how much it cost. It will track the governor's schedule as he holds campaign-style events focusing on the state's economy.

The two leading Democrats competing to challenge Schwarzenegger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides and state Controller Steve Westly, have been running commercials promoting themselves for several weeks.