Cable Exclusive: Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up on personal and professional failures
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived a pretty amazing life. He was born in Austria. He came to this country with practically nothing and became a bodybuilding champion, a blockbuster movie star, and of course, governor of California.
His life has not been without controversy, including a recently well-publicized affair that led to a child and the end of his marriage. He lays it out in a brand-new memoir called "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story."
Earlier I sat down with the governor for his first cable exclusive.
HANNITY: It's a story of your life. Obviously attention is being brought to the other side of your life, your relationship, your wife, the affair, the child, etc. From your perspective, why? I mean, you have a beautiful wife, beautiful family, everything going for you, where's the disconnect?
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, AUTHOR, "TOTAL RECALL": I think as I explained in the book, I created a huge screw-up. I had this child, and it destroyed my family. It was a situation where I couldn't even blame anybody else but myself, because my wife was a fantastic wife. She was a great friend, she was a great adviser, everything, great mother. I mean, my kids were fantastic. The thing that I cherished the most, you know, I destroyed by some stupid things that I've done.
So now it's -- you know, for me it's important to kind of rebuild again, get the trust back with the kids, with my wife, hopefully get back together again, bring the family back together again.
HANNITY: When you were running for governor, there were all these rumors that you had been very flirtatious on the set. You've pretty much confirmed that there have been other instances. Weren't you worried that some of this might come out?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, the stories that were out there weren't based on any truth at all. You know, the groping charges, all that. That was all nonsense. I think it was politically motivated. They came out three days before the election. I think the people looked through that very quickly.
But, you know, I'm -- I'm ashamed about that past, the mistakes that I've made, because it was -- you know, it wasn't one of the things were you make a mistake in bodybuilding, choosing the wrong movie or something, were you hurt your own career.
In this particular occasion, I've hurt a lot of people. I hurt my wife tremendously, who doesn't deserve that, and my kids and relatives, all this. I'm embarrassed, ashamed about it, but you can't go back.
The book -- people said, why would you put this in the book? I said because I'm not going to write a book that just shows the success of Arnold, the great immigrant story, but it is a great immigrant story, the book. But it also is a book about my failures, the bad decisions that I've made, the problems that I've caused because of it, all that, and it also has the successes in there. It's a book about the extraordinary immigrant story, but also with its faults.
HANNITY: Is there a happy ending potentially in this? In other words, do you get back together? Does this become a Hollywood movie inasmuch as, you know, this turns around? Without getting too much into your personal life, where does this end?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, I'm the forever optimist. So I do see that Maria and I get together eventually. You know, it takes a lot of time to heal those wounds and to trust each other again. But, you know, I will make every effort.
Maria has been extraordinary throughout this whole process. Extraordinary also with bringing the children together and making sure that we celebrate together when there's a graduation or when there's a birthday or Valentine's Day or Easter, or Christmas, stuff like that. She's been great. The kids have been really great. I'm thankful about that.
HANNITY: Where do you stand at this moment? One interview you said she's not read the book yet.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Now she has the book, yes. I just got the copy last week, and she got the copyright away.
HANNITY: Did you give her a heads-up what's in it? Did you tell her ahead of time?
SCHWARZENEGGER: We talked about it, but I didn't go into details. I didn't get her to get into a situation where she knows about the book and she has to answer questions to the press. This way, officially she hasn't read it yet, and now she has the book.
HANNITY: I remember going out, interviewing you a number of times while you were running for governor. I remember going out especially in the time when you were putting referendums that would have fundamentally transformed California.
California is now on the verge of bankruptcy, not unlike the United States, not unlike Greece, Spain, Europe in general. It seems when people are given the choice of, well, government programs or cutting, they hang on to what they know, or what they have. But ultimately it's leading to a very dangerous path, I think, financially.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that California has had a history of always spending more money than it takes in. I think Ronald Reagan went through that big challenge. As you remember, when he became governor, he had to raise taxes, he had to figure out how to make the severe cuts that he did.
Ten years later, another Republican governor had to raise taxes, went through the same problem. 10 years after that, Pete Wilson became governor, another Republican, he had to raise taxes. 10 years later, I had to raise taxes.
I was like, I hated it. Despised it. Said, "Arnold, how can you do that? You promised the people you would not raise taxes." All of a sudden there you are there with a $40 billion deficit because the economy took a dive and all of a sudden we had $22 billion less revenues coming in.
HANNITY: Even the car tax.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Exactly. It's a real dilemma and real challenge. It's one of the things that I, for instance, regret. We have accomplished a lot of things when I was governor. But the thing that I was adamant about solving was the financial problem of California to pay down the debt, number one. Number two, to make the deficit go away and to live within our means. I was not able to do it.
HANNITY: We have much more with Governor Schwarzenegger. Is he supporting a candidate this election? That is coming up next.
HANNITY: We continue now with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's written a new memoir. It's called "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story."
HANNITY: You talk about in your book, you go through a childhood where you grew up, where you had to walk to get water.
HANNITY: Milk. You didn't have a bathroom. You didn't have running water. You didn't have any of the bare necessities.
HANNITY: But you survived as a family. You talked about a tough childhood with your father. He would come home once a week intoxicated, be pretty tough on the whole family. But here we are in a country, do you think at this time in America, one in six Americans in poverty, 49 million Americans needing foods stamps, something's really wrong, right?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think the important thing is that we get our world economy back again, and the United States gets our economy back again. As I said earlier, just alone, if you build the infrastructure, it's directly related to our GDP. If we spend two percent of our GDP on infrastructure, you will get an increase of our GDP annually of two percent. China spends 10 percent of their GDP in infrastructure and they have an increase of 10 percent economic activities, India it's seven percent, so it's directly related. It's short-sighted for us not to spend money on infrastructure. Sadly the last money meant to be for economic recovery, only $150 billion went to infrastructure, the rest was sprinkled all around. It's very tough. Both of the parties have to get together.
HANNITY: How do they get together?
SCHWARZENEGGER: They have to solve the problems because it's their responsibility. We sent them to Washington to solve problems, not to --
HANNITY: Let me ask you this. One party that is just -- borrowing 40 cents of every dollar. Every time you talk about, for example, fixing Medicare, which is going bankrupt. We get an ad, granny's being thrown off the cliff, right?
Every time Republicans say we've got to manage money with the EPA, the president will say the Republicans want dirty air and water. They don't care about kids with autism and Down's syndrome. That's the narrative going on in this election.
SCHWARZENEGGER: It's arguing and finger-pointing, because we're close to an election, which I understand is a close election. As soon as the election's over, they have the responsibility to get back together and solve the problems rather than saying, we can't touch that, because in two years from now there's another election coming up.
That's been the worst thing. I just think they're not living up to their responsibility. And the people of America should really be outraged about that, that nothing is getting done, and it's getting more and more polarized.
HANNITY: It's still in your blood, I can see it. You don't get politics out of your system.
SCHWARZENEGGER: No, no. Look, it's politics, but for me I never really liked politics, but being a public servant. I think it's the greatest thing. My father-in-law talked about being a public servant is the ultimate kind of service, the ultimate job that you can have.
He was absolutely correct because to me there was nothing more satisfying than to be in Sacramento, to solve problems, work with everyone together, bring everyone together, and to just chip away, keep solving problems, and serve the people.
Because as an immigrant, as an immigrant, it is especially very satisfying that you can give something back to this country. You know, to be able to say thank you, to a place that's received you with open arms, and where I saw firsthand that the harder I worked, the more I accomplished, the more I achieved and there was no obstacle there. There was no -- not like in Europe, when I grew up, where there were obstacles after obstacles for you to get successful. Here there was no obstacle. Everyone wished you good luck and everyone said, yes, you can do it.
Of course, with my outrageous dreams that I had, I even found people in America that said, no, that's impossible, Arnold, when I said I want to be a leading man in the movies, I want to become governor, stuff like that. They say, no, no, this is impossible. But in this country, you can do it. This is the land of opportunity.
HANNITY: Do you think enough -- do you think enough people in America have that mind-set or understanding? I think we've lost some of that.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I think people are proud. I think Americans are very patriotic. I think they love their country. But I think there's a lot of Americans right now that are upset and that feel like the country's going in the wrong direction, that our politicians are going in the wrong direction.
And they wish that the politicians can get along. I remember that when I became governor, the parties in California were fighting so much that when I ran into this one -- the father of a firefighter that just passed away, I went to the funeral, and I said to him, if you need anything, just let me know. He said, please, Governor, when you get to Sacramento, go and get along, bring the parties together. If you want to do anything for my son that passed away during a firefight, do that, bring the parties together.
I will always remember that, that that's the way the California people felt. It was not so important that the Republican wins his way or Democrat gets all his way. Bring them together and solve the problems.
HANNITY: You're kind of staying out of this presidential race.
SCHWARZENEGGER: That's right, yes.
SCHWARZENEGGER: I really wanted to see the debates, I always wait for the debates. There are always some people -- for instance, McCain. I had a great relationship with McCain. He came out to fight for me in 2003, in 2005, in 2006, and he was campaigning up and down. So of course, when he ran for president, I was the first one to jump and to say I'm going to endorse him. It was a no-brainer. The same was with George Bush. When he ran, he did great work for us. We had a great relationship, the things he did for California. How quickly he was out there with our fires, how quickly he responded, all the needs that we had. And of course, I endorsed him right away, even though we didn't agree on everything, but he was my man.
So some other times you just figure, like, I got to wait a little bit, I want to hear the debates, I'm going to really look forward to the debates, then I make up my mind. That's where I am right now with this whole thing.
HANNITY: "Total Recall." Governor, good to see you. All the best to you and your family.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much. Thank you. Good to see you again.
Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.