Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger Declares Self 'Centrist' at Swearing-In Ceremony

Styling himself a centrist who is not beholden to either political party, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in Friday to a second term.

The governor, who is nursing a badly broken right leg, missed the first part of the program and came out on crutches at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium to deliver his speech.

To burnish his bipartisan credentials, Schwarzenegger invited the state's top Democrats, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who on Thursday became the first woman speaker of the House, and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, although none of them decided to attend.

However, the master of ceremonies was another famous Democrat, former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who once was speaker of the state Assembly.

Brown praised Schwarzenegger's record as the inaugural ceremony began about 40 minutes late.

"Lately, just lately, there is an incredible change that has occurred in Sacramento...," Brown said. "Under Arnold Schwarzenegger's leadership ... a revolutionary thing has taken place. Things are getting done. ... California is better off for that effort."

The symbolism is important for Schwarzenegger, who will need the cooperation of Democrats again this year, as he attempts ambitious reforms in health care and prisons. Democrats hold majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

His popularity hinges on the perception that he is a pragmatic dealmaker -- not an ideologue -- who is independent of both political parties, a theme he was to emphasize in his speech.

"We must think of ourselves as belonging not just to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, but to the Party of California," he said in his prepared remarks.

The governor has not been seen in public since he broke his right femur during a ski accident in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Dec. 23, a painful injury that required surgery. Doctors used screws and cables to connect broken fragments of his thigh bone.

The injury will force him to use crutches for two months.

He skipped the opening event to his inaugural festivities on Thursday. But aides said he would attend all three events planned for Friday, the swearing in at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, a luncheon in the Capitol and a black tie gala at the convention center.

Friday's inauguration was to be more elaborate than the one he received in 2003, after winning the divisive recall election and replacing Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. At the time, California's economy was still recovering from recession.

With the state in better shape, Schwarzenegger's advisers said the good times called for a more lavish celebration. The inaugural ceremony was to include Jose Feliciano performing the national anthem and Tony Award winning singer Jennifer Holliday giving a musical tribute to Schwarzenegger. Paul Anka and Donna Summer headlined the evening ball.

Actors Rob Lowe and Tom Arnold -- a motorcycle riding buddy of the governor -- attended the swearing-in.

Schwarzenegger collected at least $1.3 million from donors to pay for the two-day affair. Contributors include construction firms, developers and insurers, many with business before the state.

Among those who donated $50,000 or more, earning the title "Gold Sponsor," are Chevron, which often is at odds with environmentalists over regulation, and Martin Matich, a Southern California construction baron who got part of Interstate 210 named in his honor.

His firm will be among those vying for part of the $37.3 billion public works bond package approved by voters in November. Lawmakers and the governor will decide who gets the business.

The donations are not subject to contribution limits, and the governor did not have to disclose the donors' names. Schwarzenegger insists he is not influenced by contributions.