Published January 13, 2015
Liberal political activist Warren Beatty (search) has never been one to shy away from controversial political opinions, and he made no effort to do so on Saturday when he criticized California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) leadership of the state.
Beatty's scathing comments came during a graduation speech at the University of California-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. Beatty used the speech to lambaste Republicans and, specifically, Schwarzenegger, saying at one point that taxes need to be raised on the rich to solve California's budget problems. Beatty, 68, said he's been both rich and famous for 46 years and a tax hike wouldn't bother him.
The star of such movies as "Splendor in the Grass," "Bonnie and Clyde" and the political satire "Bulworth," which was based on his personal politics, added that governing is no laughing matter.
"Of course, he can joke that I want to defend the nurses because I am closer to needing one, and the elderly because I am nearer to being one and the blind because I can't see past tax-and-spend liberalism. And then, I can joke that he should defend the teachers because he has so much to learn, but finally it is not funny," he said.
Schwarzenegger has been attacked by Beatty before, most recently last month. One member of the governor's staff told FOX News that he wasn't surprised this time by Beatty.
"Warren Beatty is a crackpot. I don't know why anyone would care what he says. I'd like to see him give that speech in Orange County instead of Berkeley," Communications Director Rob Stutzman said in a statement.
Beatty is a longtime political activist credited with founding the "political concert" in 1972 when he organized a musical event featuring a reunited Simon and Garfunkel, among others, to back George McGovern's (search) presidential race.
But Beatty, who flirted with the idea of a White House run six years ago, said he doesn't plan to run for governor himself, though he would not rule out a political future.
"I don't think he's running for office, actually. I gave a party not long ago for his lawyer, Bert Fields, and [Beatty] was there with Dustin [Hoffman] posing for pictures for 'Ishtar 2,'" said FOX News political analyst Susan Estrich, who managed Michael Dukakis' presidential bid in 1988.
Beatty, who hails from Virginia originally, did make some more personal comments regarding Schwarzenegger that hit both on the governor's immigrant status as well as Beatty's own potential success in the top state office.
"The capacity to put some words together" and "the capacity to contribute, certainly, I've been around it longer than Arnold ... and this is my home state," he said.
The California governor's race doesn't heat up until next year, but already at least two Democratic candidates have said they will run for the one statewide seat that is not held by a Democrat. But most Democrats who lead in the state say they are looking for a big name to take on Schwarzenegger. One Republican analyst said he didn't expect Beatty to go for it.
"It's one thing to sit on the sidelines and carp and disagree; it's another thing to throw your hat in the arena, put yourself out to the public and say, 'This is what I stand for' and the public either agrees with you or not," said Brad Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush.
"But it's so easy to carp, and in Hollywood it has become a pastime and all Warren Beatty is doing is really doing what Democrats do best — and that is complain."
Schwarzenegger has not said if he will run for re-election, though the state Republican Party months ago took the dramatic step of backing his re-election. Estrich said Schwarzenegger has recently dropped below the 50 percent mark in public support because of his attempt to reform pension plans that critics said would have hurt nurses, firefighters and police officers. Anyone who wants to get elected statewide in California needs to win between 1 million and 1.5 million Democrats votes, she added.
FOX News' Adam Housley contributed to this report.