Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can still duck a question.
Let the predicament of Donald Trump – and a few minutes on NBC’s “Meet the Press” – count the ways.
Four times on Sunday, moderator Chuck Todd asked Schwarzenegger about the presumptive Republican nominee, and four times Schwarzenegger avoided answering.
He did not endorse Trump, or repudiate him. He had come on the show to talk about recent polling done for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.
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“This is really my interest,” Schwarzenegger said.
For all the similarities between Trump and Schwarzenegger – two political outsiders with money and populist appeal – unrelenting message discipline would appear to belong solely to Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Republican primary. Kasich later dropped out.
Asked to compare and contrast his celebrity-fueled candidacy in 2003 to Trump’s, Schwarzenegger said, “I don’t really study that much of, you know, what is the difference between Donald Trump and my candidacy. I study much more the Field polls and the USC Schwarzenegger polls that we have just done about what do the people really think.”
Then Todd asked Schwarzenegger if he was comfortable with Trump as the standard bearer for the Republican Party.
Schwarzenegger said he will always be a Republican, “but what is more important about it is not what do I think about Donald Trump. We have to talk about the bigger issue. And this is what do the people really feel.”
Todd tried two more times, then circled back once more: “All right, I’m going to ask you one last time. Do you plan on publicly saying whether you’ll be for Trump?”
Finally, a straight answer.
Schwarzenegger said he will “study the various different candidates” and will make an announcement before the election.
“But I will do it my way,” he said. “Which is always an unusual way.”